203605 Toxic Environmental Waste Caused by Cigarette Butts and Filters

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:30 PM

Thomas Novotny, MD, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
John Schneider, Research on tobacco economics , General Manager, Oxford Outccomes, Morristown, NJ
Cigarette butts are the number one collected item of trash each year on international beach cleanups. These are almost entirely made up of cellulose acetate (plastic) filters which are not biodegradable. These filters also contain toxic hazardous waste products produced by smoking, and the residual tobacco on a butt contains partially combusted or raw tobacco that is hazardous. The shear volume of this waste product (4.5 trillion worldwide deposited each year into the environment) calls for new approaches to reduce the environmental burden of hazardous cigarette waste. Options include: collecting fees to be used for cleanup of butt waste, increasing taxes on filtered cigarettes, developing biodegradable filters, increasing regulations on and fines for discarding butts, increasing public awareness about toxic hazardous cigarette waste, bringing class action suits against the industry to recover damages to the environment for uncontrolled, non-point-source cigarette butt waste, and banning the sales and production of non-biodegradable cigarette filters at the state level. The session will review tobacco industry documents on the evidence regarding smokers attitudes towards littering and the industry attempts to develop biodegradable filters; report on marine and freshwater toxicity studies on cigarette waste in the environment; review the regulatory and litigation options for the state regarding cigarette butt waste, and present a new advocacy project to address the environmental problem of toxic cigarette butt waste.

Learning Objectives:
1. To compare and contrast the various policy approaches to reduce cigarette butt and filter waste in the environment 2. To evaluated the health consequences of prohibiting the sales of cigarette filters at the state level

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Tobacco Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Conducting research in tobacco butts as toxic hazardous waste
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.