Thanks to campaigns, initiatives, and a number of eye-opening documentaries, awareness of pollution – particularly in our oceans – is on the rise every day.

The younger generation are sure making a concerted effort to clear up pollution and waste, along with campaigning against climate change and it’s impact on our health.

When one thinks of the pollution of our ocean, you think of straws, bottle caps, cotton buds and other plastic products. I mean, that’s what we’re constantly told. BUT it has however emerged that the real problem, being the single biggest source of waste ending up in our oceans is in fact cigarette butts!

These filters are causing irreparable damage to our oceans and their wildlife and with the astronomical number of them and their small size, they are easily ingested by animals and found almost everywhere.

While governments and big brands are fighting against this,  the cigarette industry has remained rather quiet about the imposing issue and it’s concerning.

Activists are committed to making a change though and have come together to campaign to have cigarette filters banned. The thing is – the focus is not only being bolstered by environmental activists, but the links with human health have also been a highlight.

Among these, a California lawmaker, a leading tobacco industry academic and a worldwide surfing organisation are on board.

Cigarette butts are apparently the single most collected item on beaches worldwide in cleanup operations, with a staggering count of over 60 million being collected in 32 years.

Thomas Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University, said:

“It’s pretty clear there is no health benefit from filters. They are just a marketing tool. And they make it easier for people to smoke.

It’s also a major contaminant, with all that plastic waste. It seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this.”

An assemblyman in California has proposed a ban on cigarettes with filters altogether, though the committee didn’t allow his proposal to go out. Likewise, a NY senator has created legislation where a rebate for the return of cigarette butts to ‘redemption centers’ could be offered – but the idea has been delayed.

San Francisco has so far been the most successful, charging a 60 cent fee per pack purchased, raising roughly $3mil a year in revenue, aiding in the costs associated with beach cleanup projects.

The Truth Initiative, one of America’s largest anti-smoking organisations has been battling to cut out filters, launching a recent campaign urging people to cut down. he Cigarette Butt Pollution Project is aiming at the exact same thing.

One needs to think about this: 5.6 trillion cigarettes are produced annually worldwide, with the majority made with cellulose acetate filters. Cellulose acetate is a form of plastic that take decades to decompose!

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