How Cigarette Butts Pollute the Earth

A single cigarette butt can pollute up to one thousand liters of water. What can be done to help the environmental situation?

A recording on DW points out that every year, 6 trillion cigarettes are disposed of, and cigarette butts which are filled with toxic chemicals like arsenic, are contaminating our soil and our water.

Does switching to vaping help the situation?

Cigarette butts are essentially non-biodegradable, and therefore by vaping instead of smoking, one can prevent the circulation of more butts in the environment. Throughout their lifetime, an average smoker will discard around 430,700 butts, and these harmless-looking cigarette butts are actually very toxic.

“When butts are disposed of, over 600 chemicals are leaked into the environment per butt. Because 7,300 butts are disposed per smoker per year, 4,380,000 chemicals are leaked into the environment per year per smoker,” read an article on Mt Maker Vapor’s website last year.

The article added that switching to vaping helps the environment in the following ways:

  1. Preventing cigarette butts being deposited into the environment.
    2. The Impact of vaping prevents money from ending up in the hands of Big Tobacco.
    3. Preventing trees from being cut down.
    4. Preventing CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
    5. Preventing chemicals from being leaked into soil, oceans, lakes, and rivers.

What about e-waste?

On the other hand, while switching from smoking to vaping may have these positive effects on the environment, researchers have also highlighted the negative impact that irresponsible e-cigarette production can have. “E-waste is a huge problem globally. Anytime we make something that is disposable, we’re essentially stealing from the future,” said Yogi Hale Hendlin of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, last year.

E-waste very often ends up incinerated, which isn’t ecological at all!

Citing a 2017 CDC study, Hendlin had explained that just in 2015, over 58 million vaping products were sold in the U.S. at grocery and convenience stores alone. About 19 million of those products were designed for single use.

The researcher had pointed out that the resulting e-waste is often shipped from Western countries to developing countries, which places the environmental hazard of reprocessing, reclaiming and incinerating waste on these poorer nations.

“Most of these devices don’t include instructions on how to dispose of the products. And the ones that do often include a convoluted process, and it gets incinerated in the end, which isn’t ecological at all,” wrote the researcher in the American Journal of Public Health.

Let’s be conscious consumers

Lets demand sustainable solutions for vaping devices from our manufacturers, and when selecting which products to purchase, lets bear in mind the impact that our choices are having on the environment as well, rather than just considering the impact on our health. Ultimately our earth’s health, is our health!