Diary 3/7/19 – Cigarette Butts

It might seem unusual to have a diary entry on this subject. After all, people have the right to smoke cigarettes if they want to, don’t they? And anyway, what does it have to do with reducing single-use plastics? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot. I’m not a smoker, but I certainly used to be back in the day. And I just found out something that came as a complete revelation to me. 

Cigarette butts contain single-use plastic.

Yep, that’s right. The ‘filters’ are made from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic.

Maybe you already knew this, but I for one, certainly didn’t. It means that when you’re smoking, you’re not only inhaling tobacco and nicotine and all that stuff – the substances you’d expect – you’re also breathing in plastic too.

The other important thing to say about cigarette butts is that they are the number one contaminant found in sea water. Not straws, not carrier bags, but cigarette butts. 

And now I’ve read this, I can’t stop seeing them, littering the pavements everywhere I go. Because (and I’ve been guilty of this in the past) when people finish a cigarette and there isn’t an ashtray to hand, they just throw it down wherever they happen to be standing. Here’s a charming picture of some cigarette butts, that were recently picked up on the streets of  Brussels over a three hour period…


If you really need to smoke, it makes sense, I guess, to roll your own cigarettes, using biodegradable filters. Funny isn’t it, that cigarette manufacturers don’t feel impelled to put anything on the pack to tell you about the plastic? To mention, just in passing, that you are about to inhale one noxious substance you probably hadn’t taken into account?



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