Next Article in Journal
Analysis of Airborne Betula Pollen in Finland; a 31-Year Perspective
Next Article in Special Issue
Pattern of Smoking Habit among Greek Blue and White Collar Workers
Previous Article in Journal
Fluoride Intake through Consumption of Tap Water and Bottled Water in Belgium
Previous Article in Special Issue
Estimated Time for Occurrence of Smoking-Related Consequences among Pregnant and Non-Pregnant Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6(5), 1691-1705; doi:10.3390/ijerph6051691

Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste

1, 2,* , 1
1 Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94143, USA 2 Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92186, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 April 2009 / Accepted: 19 May 2009 / Published: 20 May 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tobacco Smoking and Public Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [265 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]   |   Browse Figures


Discarded cigarette butts are a form of non-biodegradable litter. Carried as runoff from streets to drains, to rivers, and ultimately to the ocean and its beaches, cigarette filters are the single most collected item in international beach cleanups each year. They are an environmental blight on streets, sidewalks, and other open areas. Rather than being a protective health device, cigarette filters are primarily a marketing tool to help sell ‘safe’ cigarettes. They are perceived by much of the public (especially current smokers) to reduce the health risks of smoking through technology. Filters have reduced the machine-measured yield of tar and nicotine from burning cigarettes, but there is controversy as to whether this has correspondingly reduced the disease burden of smoking to the population. Filters actually may serve to sustain smoking by making it seem less urgent for smokers to quit and easier for children to initiate smoking because of reduced irritation from early experimentation. Several options are available to reduce the environmental impact of cigarette butt waste, including developing biodegradable filters, increasing fines and penalties for littering butts, monetary deposits on filters, increasing availability of butt receptacles, and expanded public education. It may even be possible to ban the sale of filtered cigarettes altogether on the basis of their adverse environmental impact. This option may be attractive in coastal regions where beaches accumulate butt waste and where smoking indoors is increasingly prohibited. Additional research is needed on the various policy options, including behavioral research on the impact of banning the sale of filtered cigarettes altogether.
Keywords: cigarette litter; waste; butts; smoking; filters; environment cigarette litter; waste; butts; smoking; filters; environment
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Share & Cite This Article

Further Mendeley | CiteULike
Export to BibTeX |
MDPI and ACS Style

Novotny, T.E.; Lum, K.; Smith, E.; Wang, V.; Barnes, R. Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2009, 6, 1691-1705.

View more citation formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

For more information on the journal, click here


Cited By

[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert