The Environment

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NATURE PAYS, TOO

Oregon’s dramatic coastline and expansive public parks belong to everyone in our state. Same goes for our mountain-fed rivers and countless wild streams. Tobacco spoils these natural treasures, butt by dirty butt.

Forget plastic bags or candy wrappers. Cigarettes, filters and butts are the most common source of litter.1 They’re everywhere: on sidewalks and streets, and on beaches. They do not biodegrade quickly or easily; in fact, they take decades to decompose. They’re poisonous to animals and children. When they’re discarded, they drift via storm drains and ditches into the water supply, where they release toxins including arsenic, lead and nicotine.2

Cigarette butts in the water aren’t just unsightly; they can clog the digestive tracts of birds, fish and other wildlife.3 Cleaning up cigarette waste is time consuming and expensive.

Vape pens and cartridges contain nicotine and lithium batteries. They are discarded on school grounds and many other places where children play and animals live.4

The pervasive, persistent litter that tobacco leaves behind — on land, in waterways and in the ocean — hurts the wildlife and natural places that people in Oregon all hold dear.

View Page Citations

  1. World Health Organization. (2017). Tobacco and its environmental impact: an overview. Geneva: Author. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/255574/9789241512497-eng.pdf;sequence=1

    Ocean Conservancy. International coastal clean up. Retrieved from https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/annual-data-release/

  2. Novotny, T.E., Lum, K., Smith, E., Wang, V., & Barnes, R. (2009). Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6, 1691-1705.

  3. Novotny, T.E., Lum, K., Smith, E., Wang, V., & Barnes, R. (2009). Cigarettes butts and the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6, 1691-1705.

    Ocean Conservancy. International coastal clean up. Retrieved from https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/international-coastal-cleanup/annual-data-release/

  4. Mock, J., & Hendlin, Y. H. (2019). Notes from the Field: Environmental Contamination from E-cigarette, Cigarette, Cigar, and Cannabis Products at 12 High Schools – San Francisco Bay Area, 2018-2019. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 68(40), 897–899. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6840a4