In our course of in-depth research to fuel our anti-plastic campaign and unveil before the audience the nuances of the item in almost everything of our lives, and every segment of the planet we live, we have also been acquainted with some really shocking facts. Be it the presence of plastic in dental sealants, salt, and mineral water, the element’s unfortunate annex of a land that’s untouched by humans, or even their existence at the deepest point of the ocean, these hidden and almost unknown pieces of information have broken myths and widened our knowledge regarding the real global menace that’s plastic. It’s almost unbelievable that an item whose presence was only announced to the world a few decades ago is now technically omnipresent and is choking the earth bit by bit. And now, we would present before you another mind-boggling fact. The cigarettes that you smoke so dearly, the item that has throttled perhaps the biggest global health awareness movement in the last century, has something more to surprise you. Beware all hundreds of millions of active and passive smokers—the cigarette filter houses plastic!
In the 1950s, cigarette filters were introduced for purely ‘healthier’ reasons—to prevent the direct passage of harmful chemicals to the mouth and hence into the body. However, the filters contain tiny plastic particles that take decades to fully breakdown. To define in-depth, acclaimed studies have found that these filters are manufactured of tiny cellulose acetate fibres—a form of plastic! Considering the ill-effects of plastic on health that is known to everyone know, this certainly adds up the hazardous health impact of cigarettes. For instance, a study conducted in 2011 has revealed that the filters have resulted in altering the most frequent form of lung cancer from squamous cell carcinoma to adenocarcinoma. Hence, the very reason why filters were put on cigarettes is nothing but a fallacy, and WHO acknowledges this fact too.
Well, the environment is also not caged from its negative effects. Actually, these tiny filters do a lot, lot more harm to the environment than one can perceive from the naked eye! Most know that plastic straws, bottles, and other daily use items are the biggest contributors to plastic pollution in oceans that kill millions of animals each year. However, if you are one among those who are frequent travellers to the sea cities and have been warned to smoke on the beaches, you should probably have taken a hint. Reports by multiple, renowned global organizations and a final study by NBC news recently have discovered that it’s cigarette filters that are actually the biggest contributors to plastic pollution in oceans. So while campaigns against plastic straws are gaining momentum, what actually is needed on an emergency basis is a global movement against the dumping of cigarette butts in the oceans!
Let’s look at the stats to have greater clarity on the issue. A campaign going by the name, Cigarette Butt Pollution that aims to nullify cigarette filter pollution from oceans has presented a mind-boggling report. The study says that around two-thirds of the 5.6 trillion cigarette filters manufactured each year are littered irresponsibly, resonating with the habit of most people around the globe who just throw away the filter on streets, waters, or anywhere they finish their cigarette! WHO adds that around 680 million kilograms of cigarette butt waste are littered every year around the world that constitutes about 19-38% of the litter collected in world beaches annually. In the UK alone, around 122 tons of cigarette butts and cigarette related waste are littered everyday. To say more and add to this, the butts mostly contain hundreds of toxic chemicals like nicotine, arsenic, heavy metals, that leach into the streets, our drainage systems, and finally into the open waters, causing irreversible damage to aquatic organisms. They have been found in the gut of fishes, birds, whales, and other marine creatures, who unsurprisingly consume them mistaking for fodder!
What happens when two of perhaps the biggest health and environmental hazards meet? Needless to say, this is the thing of real concern! Two of our addictions have come together to strangulate our lives and the planet in every way possible. However, the real threat comes from not being aware, because you take a step only after you know! And, that’s where the fault is. While people are still addicted to cigarettes even after knowing its ill-effects, they are mostly unaware that another global menace agent has built its abode too, on these. That’s our motive and our aim through these articles—we aspire to fuel that knowledge to the masses and let them be more aware about the true reality. This is the first step to the global revolution that we envision, against plastic, against destruction of all creation.
Please support us in our campaign against the global menace plastic is