The Butt Of The Problem

Posted 24th January 2019 by Dave Cross
Eleven tonnes of cigarette butts are discarded across England every single day, enough to fill seven Olympic-sized swimming pools each year, according to ASH UK. Amelia Howard and Adam Houston believe this aspect of smokers switching to vaping should be factored into the debate.

According to the ASH UK Ready Reckoner, smokers in England get through 75 million daily cigarettes. Almost 90% of these are filtered, which results in 11 tonnes of cigarette butts being discarded across England daily.

This represents over four thousand tonnes of waste annually, of which nearly two thousand tonnes are discarded as street litter that must be collected by the local government. ASH UK point out that doesn’t include the additional waste from cigarette packaging and other smoking-related litter.

The Tobacco Products Directive has increased the volume of waste products vapers dispose of, but this could be reversed with the application of common sense – and is something the UK Government is seeking to address.

Charles Bloom, managing director of, told the Halifax Courier: “Cigarette waste is a huge problem. Today, consumers are more conscious of waste than ever before. Now, people think twice before purchasing a plastic bottle or disposable coffee cup, even a straw, and the very same mentality should be applied to cigarette butts.”

“Of course, not only is the filter component damaging to the environment, but the nicotine, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia and other chemicals found in cigarettes are damaging too. Damaging to our wildlife, dangerous to our children and harmful to society; we have a responsibility to recognise this is a problem too big to ignore.”


Canadians Amelia Howard and Adam Houston say: “The debate needs to expand to take into account how the environment stands to benefit from the shift away from traditional cigarettes.”

“Cigarette butts are the world’s single most common item of litter, according to a 2017 report by the World Health Organization. They account for 30 to 40 percent of all items collected in annual clean-ups on coasts and in urban areas.”

“Encouraging smokers of combustible cigarettes to switch to noncombustible alternatives that remove both carcinogenic smoke and cigarette butts from the environment is a win-win, reducing harm not only to the smokers themselves but to the environment as well.”

Houston and Howard’s full article “The rise of e-cigarettes could drastically reduce an age-old environmental scourge: millions of discarded butts. Let’s factor it into the debate” is linked to in the resources below.




 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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