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Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
posted
… Comes Under Fire (The Wall Street Journal)

This has long been one of my pet peeves: Cigarette smokers don’t seem to believe that their (cig) butts are litter, and our sidewalks and streets show it. The previous owners of our house were smokers, and I found filters on our property 10 and more years after we moved in.

A discussion of what some people are trying to do about it, but note that most effort has been designed to make cigarette butts degradable, not to stop the practice.

==================

Smokers’ habit of tossing cigarette butts on the ground sparks concerns about single-use plastic

Cigarette butts, the most littered items in the world, are posing an intractable trash problem for regulators and tobacco companies: Throwing them on the ground is a firmly entrenched habit for many smokers.

Regulators are taking a tougher stance on cigarette filter pollution amid concerns about the environmental impact of single-use plastic. Butts for decades have been made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which takes years to break down. Studies show that butts—which often wash from sidewalks into drains and then waterways—can be toxic to fish.

Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic

About 65% of cigarettes smoked in the U.S. are littered, according to Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit whose cigarette litter prevention program is funded by the tobacco industry.

“That whole habit is so ingrained it becomes part of the ritual of taking the cigarette out of the pack, lighting it, smoking it, putting it on the ground,” said Christopher Proctor, chief scientific officer at British American Tobacco PLC, whose cigarette brands include Kent, Newport and Camel. “Changing ingrained behavior is a really difficult thing to do.”

The European Union in May adopted new rules under which members must pass laws within two years requiring tobacco companies to fund the cleanup of filter litter as part of a broader crackdown on single-use plastics. A bill proposing banning filters has made its way through the California Senate and will be heard by the lower house next year.

In response, BAT and Japan Tobacco Inc. are testing biodegradable filters, while Philip Morris International Inc. is assessing the appetite for portable ashtrays. Companies also are tapping behavioral psychologists to understand what propels smokers to litter, hoping to forestall stricter regulation.

“It has become the issue of the decade, I think, plastics and their fates in the environment,” Mr. Proctor said. “I don’t think the pressure’s going to go away so [BAT’s] research program has got to deliver something.”

Previous efforts to make eco-friendly filters have fallen flat. In 2013, BAT tested filters made from natural fibers like abaca and hemp but found toxin levels were too high. That same year rival Imperial Brands PLC launched a paper filter for its Gauloises brand in France but scrapped it after consumers complained about the taste. The World Health Organization says that when filters do break down they leach out some of the 7,000 chemicals contained in cigarettes, many of which are environmentally toxic.

Now BAT is trying again. It is testing the toxicity of biodegradable filters made by San Diego startup Greenbutts LLC and examining how quickly they break down to see if they meet third-party certification standards.

Critics say cigarette makers have moved too slowly on the issue, instead focusing resources on developing e-cigarettes and tobacco-heating products as traditional cigarette volumes decline. They complain companies haven’t put labels on packs telling smokers filters contain plastic or explaining the toxicity of waste. Industry executives say they haven’t previously invested much in eco-friendly filters because existing ones effectively decrease tar levels.

Cellulose acetate filters were first added to cigarettes in the 1950s after studies linked smoking to lung cancer. By 1960, filtered cigarettes made up 51% of the U.S. market, according to BAT. Today, almost all cigarettes contain such filters.

Studies have questioned their health benefits, saying they don’t block all chemicals. The U.S. Surgeon General says filters may have increased lung-cancer risks by enabling smokers to inhale more vigorously, while WHO has said marketing claims that filtered cigarettes are healthier are “fraudulent.” Companies say filters collect tar particles and carcinogens and are necessary to meet regulations.

Tobacco makers have turned to psychologists to understand why smokers litter and whether their behavior can be changed.

Wesley Schultz—a psychology professor at California State University San Marcos who is working with Keep America Beautiful—said the number and placement of bins matter, as does an area’s cleanliness. His 2013 research showed that for every additional ash receptacle, the littering rate for butts dropped by 9 percentage points, using a base littering rate of 65%.

Companies say the small size of filters means littering seems of little consequence to smokers and that they often stamp out butts to cut fire risks. A 2012 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed 14% of smokers don’t consider butts as litter.

“When I was a kid, people used to say make sure you throw the cigarette butt on the ground and step on it, so it’s become a normal thing,” said Jens Rupp, head of environmental sustainability at Philip Morris.

The WHO says filters are the biggest source of litter world-wide, while Keep America Beautiful says the trend holds true for the U.S.

In Memphis, Tenn., and Columbus, Ohio, Keep America Beautiful next month will use billboards and other outdoor advertising to tell residents “cigarette butts don’t go up in smoke,” and “cigarette litter doesn’t go away on its own.” Prof. Schultz is helping the nonprofit test whether advertising, and the placement of ads in relation to cigarette urns, influences behavior.

“Our hypothesis is that a combination of access and advertising should dramatically improve littering,” said Noah Ullman, the nonprofit’s marketing head.

In the U.K., Philip Morris is running focus groups with nonprofit Clean Up Britain to test the public’s appetite for portable ashtrays, which have been sold for decades without gaining traction. Participants have opined on 10 ashtray models, taking one home for a few weeks.

So far, testers have expressed concerns about the smell or loose ash escaping, said John Read, head of Clean Up Britain. Design has also emerged as a consideration. Mr. Read thinks more smokers would use portable ashtrays if they became fashionable.

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com

Link




“I can’t give you brains, but I can give you a diploma.”
— The Wizard of Oz
 
Posts: 39958 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Banned
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“I am a smoker, the world is my ashtray”.


I despise smokers who smoke & throw their butts anywhere. Filthy animals.
 
Posts: 1801 | Location: Possum Kingdom, TX | Registered: April 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Three Generations
of Service
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Smoking related litter is certainly an issue but nowhere NEAR as disgusting as chewing tobacco/snuff related litter.

Chewing/dipping gets my vote as the most digusting habit on the planet.




Be careful when following the masses. Sometimes the M is silent.
 
Posts: 11766 | Location: Downeast Maine | Registered: March 10, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Ignored facts
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Cigarette butts are responsible for one hell of a lot of forest / grass fires.


.
 
Posts: 8013 | Location: The Beaver State | Registered: February 28, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
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Smokers throwing their butts on the ground is one of the reasons I'm glad I no longer identify as a smoker.

The U.S. Army taught me to field strip them and stash the butt in a pocket. I'd done so ever since.




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
The dominant media is no more "mainstream" than leftists are liberals.
 
Posts: 15954 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Gotta love the ones that toss a butt out the window of a car. If you don’t want it in your car then stop smoking you asshole!
 
Posts: 11810 | Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA | Registered: October 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
On the DL
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I saw a woman discard a burning cigarette butt on the sidewalk. A man picked it up and said, "Ma'am, I think you dropped something," and he dropped the smoldering butt into a shopping bag that the woman was carrying.



A mind is a terrible thing.
 
Posts: 21200 | Location: Central Florida (near Orlando) | Registered: January 03, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This sounds like something my father in law would do. One time a lady in a cadillac flicked her butt onto the hood of his truck while both were sitting at a red light. He got out, picked up the butt, and flipped it right back into her open window.

quote:
Originally posted by V-Tail:
I saw a woman discard a burning cigarette butt on the sidewalk. A man picked it up and said, "Ma'am, I think you dropped something," and he dropped the smoldering butt into a shopping bag that the woman was carrying.




The universe is hostile
So impersonal
Devour to survive
So it is, so it's always been

 
Posts: 1368 | Registered: November 28, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by V-Tail:
I saw a woman discard a burning cigarette butt on the sidewalk. A man picked it up and said, "Ma'am, I think you dropped something," and he dropped the smoldering butt into a shopping bag that the woman was carrying.


I have on occasion attempted to politely inform someone that they've "dropped something" at stop lights. I'm either completely ignored, or flipped off.




Don't believe everything you think.

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Posts: 1667 | Location: Virginia, USA | Registered: December 04, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Not really from Vienna
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If they’d just make cigarettes out of something that would eventually kill the users of them, it seems like the problem would solve itself.

Wink




 
Posts: 24335 | Location: Young American Teen Club | Registered: January 30, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nullus Anxietas
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quote:
Originally posted by Leemur:
Gotta love the ones that toss a butt out the window of a car.

There was a time I did that. Then one day I discovered my back seat was smoldering and nearly afire.

I regarded that as karma and stopped flicking butts out the window.




"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system,,,, but too early to shoot the bastards." -- Claire Wolfe
The dominant media is no more "mainstream" than leftists are liberals.
 
Posts: 15954 | Location: S.E. Michigan | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Smoking elevates you to a special asshole level.



I'm sorry if I hurt you feelings when I called you stupid - I thought you already knew - Unknown
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Posts: 1968 | Location: Kalispell Montana & Florida’s Emerald Coast for the Winter | Registered: December 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
On the DL
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I used to be one of those elevated special assholes.

Now, I'm just a run-of-the-mill regular asshole. Smile



A mind is a terrible thing.
 
Posts: 21200 | Location: Central Florida (near Orlando) | Registered: January 03, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Its been years but I recall lots of smokers emptying their car ashtray at red lights.
 
Posts: 3407 | Location: west 'by god' virginia | Registered: May 30, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Big Grin Simple - make smokers only buy these:



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Posts: 7242 | Location: Northern Virginia | Registered: November 04, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Go to 1:56 of trailer or just enjoy Robert Mitchum. Here he makes good use of his smoke.

 
Posts: 5845 | Location: MS GULF COAST | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good PC for a traffic stop or field contact. Besides it is nasty and dirty. Some of the biggest arguments I have had during a traffic stop have been over the driver not believing/considering their discarded cig is actually litter.

The best ones are the people that dump the ashtray at the stoplight.
 
Posts: 2774 | Registered: January 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Leemur:
Gotta love the ones that toss a butt out the window of a car. If you don’t want it in your car then stop smoking you asshole!


Back in my days of smoking, a buddy of mine and I were on a double date. He and his Girl (HOOTERS) were in the rear seat. I was driving.

I tossed a lit cigarette out my window to have it blow into the open rear window and land in Hooter Girls cleavage.

To say she was merely pissed would be an gross understatement.


*********
"I spent most of my money on Motorcycles, Women and Booze. The rest I wasted."
 
Posts: 6700 | Location: Arizona | Registered: August 17, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
"Member"
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quote:
Originally posted by Leemur:
Gotta love the ones that toss a butt out the window of a car.


Yup, not just throwing trash from their moving car, but burning carcinogens. Big Grin


_____________________________________________________
Sliced bread, the greatest thing since the 1911.

 
Posts: 16884 | Location: 18th & Fairfax  | Registered: May 17, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Breaking the habit of tossing the cig butt is as hard as breaking the smoking habit.
Out of sight, out if mind kinda thing.
Churches are making their property "tobacco free zones" because of the litter.
I remember the times one couldn't put a hand on the ground without touching a cig butt.
Awareness is the key. Imo use the media to push a narrative.
 
Posts: 632 | Location: Mint Hill NC | Registered: November 26, 2016Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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