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Cigarette Butts Are A Bigger Environmental Threat Than Plastic Straws, Says Research

Mark Andrew

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  • A study conducted in Cambridge, England by Anglia Ruskin University tells us that aside from plastic, cigarette butts are also another huge threat to our environment.
  • Discarded butts not only pollute our ocean but even harms our soil because they’re made of harmful material.

We’ve all known about the devastating effects of single use plastic to the environment. Countless experts and organizations have warned us over and over about it, urging us to minimize our daily usage of plastic products such as bottles, cups, straws, and others.

Well it looks like we actually have a bigger environmental threat than plastic, according to a recent study. What could be a more harmful environmental hazard than plastic, you ask? A new research gives us this answer – cigarette butts.

Aside from harming our oceans, cigarette butts are also destroying our soil.

In a study conducted by Cambridge, England’s Anglia Ruskin University and published in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety journal, we learn that discarded cigarette butts in soil decreases germination of grass by 10% and clover by 27%. Shoot length is also affected by 13% and 28% decrease, respectively.

Dr Danielle Green, lead author of the study, put it this way:

“Despite being a common sight littering streets and parks worldwide, our study is the first to show the impact of cigarette butts on plants.”

It’s a massive problem that definitely needs to be addressed sooner than later.

The research further tells us that an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered on a yearly basis.


In Cambridge, for example, the researchers found about 128 butts per square meter.

So yes, smoking, in the long run, destroys our body, wastes our money, and even harms our environment.

This means it is truly a serious environmental concern, particularly because cigarette filters are made of a bioplastic called cellulose acetate fiber.

Meanwhile, it has also been discovered that even unsmoked cigarettes, when thrown irresponsibly, also has similar devastating effects as used filters. It only gets worse when tobacco toxins are burned.

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