I gave up smoking 30-some years ago but I’ll admit that before I did, I often tossed my cigarette butts into the lake when I was fishing. I didn’t consider myself a litterbug and would never have tossed empty bottles or cans, plastic bags or any other non-biodegradable refuse, overboard.
But butts were small, and I thought the remnants of the filtered Marlboros I smoked were made from a biodegradable packing that would “go away” in a short time.
Maybe that was true back in the 1980s, but now most cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, an early form of plastic still used in eyeglass frames and the textile industry. Cellulose acetate can last for decades in the environment.
The BoatUS Foundation recently announced a continuation and expansion of their 2011 Cigarette Litter Prevention program, which provided permanent and portable ashtrays at participating marinas.
The project proved successful in making it easier for smokers to snub out their smokes properly, rather than pitching the butts overboard or squashing them on the docks.
I think the Cigarette Litter Prevention program is great. I also think that most smokers, if they understood their cigarette filters are more than just a temporary bit of litter, can police themselves. How hard is it to use an ashtray and dispose of your butts just as you would any other kind of trash? The money from the BoatUS Foundation could then be used to fund solutions to problems you didn’t cause.
Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. But don’t toss the butts overboard.