Cigarette butts - poisoning the environment | Close up - The Current Affairs Documentary | DW | 02.10.2018
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Cigarette butts - poisoning the environment

Cigarettes are poisonous. Nicotine not only harms our health, but also the environment. Every year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are tossed away, adding to a global toxic waste problem. Nature conservationists are now calling for a ban on filters.

Watch video 28:34

Environmentalists are calling for filters to be outlawed, as it is the substances left behind in them that turn cigarette butts into hazardous waste. Experiments with fish show just how poisonous this trash is. Just a few minutes after young trout are released into water mixed with nicotine from discarded butts, the consequences become apparent. The fish start to vomit and twitch, turn belly up and sink. The scientist leading the research - Professor Thomas Novotny from the University of San Diego - warns that one single cigarette end placed in a liter of water will kill small creatures like fish within four days. Nicotine directly affects the nervous system. And the more butts that end up as litter, the more nicotine will be washed out into our sewers, lakes and rivers, and ultimately end up in the sea The effects of tobacco consumption on humans are well known, but the environmental impact of cigarette butts continues to be something of a dirty secret.