Toxic Tobacco: Nearly half of smokers and ex-smokers admit they’ve thrown their cigarette butt on the ground, survey finds
For many smokers, it’s a nearly automatic habit to flick their cigarette butt onto the ground. However, not everyone knows that cigarettes are the most common type of plastic waste on the planet; there are around 4.5 trillion single cigarette butts polluting the environment. The tiny toxic pieces of waste also cause serious damage to the earth’s water sources and it’s a common occurrence for researchers to uncover them inside dead sea animals.
Cigarette butts slowly release toxins into the environment which can not only be lethal to living organisms nearby, but they can also take up to a full decade to completely degrade; and the chemicals may remain for even longer.
A survey of 1,100 Brits was conducted by GoSmokeFree.co.uk to determine how people felt about smoking cigarettes in relation to their environmental impact. The survey also asked people who were current smokers or ex-smokers if they’ve ever thrown their cigarette butt on the ground. Nearly half (48%) of these respondents said they’ve admittedly thrown their cigarette butt on the ground.
Concerningly, more than a quarter (27%) wrongly thought that cigarettes were biodegradable, which could explain the significant number of people who admit to habitually have thrown their butts on the ground. Considering how common an occurrence cigarette butts are as litter on the streets, it’s interesting to see that so many people think they are biodegradable. However, it’s perhaps understandable given that they are often wrapped in paper, which can sometimes be more environmentally friendly than other materials.
Not only were respondents concerned about the environment in relation to cigarette smoking, but nearly three-quarters (71%) said if they knew of a loved one who smoked tobacco, they would encourage them to switch up the habit to less harmful vapes. And on average, respondents said 7 per day was the threshold of cigarette smoking they would tolerate before becoming concerned about a friend or relative who smoked tobacco.
The survey also asked respondents what, in their opinion, the best way was for an individual to quit smoking. More than a third (37%) of people said the best way was to follow nicotine replacement therapy methods, followed by a quarter (25%) who said vaping. For many, vaping provides a similar habit to take up for those wanting to quit smoking tobacco. Twenty-three percent of people said the best way for smokers to quit was to go cold turkey. Lastly, 15% said it’s ideal to take up activities in the mindfulness or hypnotherapy field in order to help on the path to quitting cigarettes.
For a significant number of smokers, it becomes difficult to replace the habit of smoking a cigarette, which is why vaping can be a handy substitute. Moreover, it provides a way to still maintain a sense of routine that is often created for smokers – such as smoke break to relieve stress during the day.
When it comes to the cost of smoking habits, it’s perhaps no surprise that people switch over from cigarettes to vaping due to the financial implications. In fact, more than half (59%) of people said they think that vaping products should be tax-free in order to encourage smokers to switch over from cigarettes. It also appears many don’t know the decreased costs involved in vaping either as the average respondent thought vaping devices cost 32 GBP. However, some vaping devices can cost as little as 5 GBP.
But when it comes to ditching (or rather, switching) the habit, it seems that many people are unaware of how vaping works. Nearly half (47%) of people overall said they have no clue how vaping works. Moreover, nearly three-quarters (73%) said they don’t think health authorities have done enough to encourage smokers to quit by converting to vaping, and 40% of people said they do not think anti-smoking laws are tough enough.
In 2007, it became illegal to smoke cigarettes in any restaurant, pub and workplaces throughout the UK. However, more than half (56%) of people don’t feel this is enough, and that smoking cigarettes should be made illegal given the burden that it places on the NHS.