How many times have we seen a car driver kicks the butt of his cigarette out the window? o How many times have we been walking down the street and see the smokers perform the same action without remorse?, probably more than they should, and even got to see it as daily actions to which we are accustomed, but the reality is that they cause huge and irreversible damage to the environment.

We do not know much is that butts can take to degrade from 1 ½ to 10 years, depending on environmental conditions in which they are, and it is here that we question arises why take so if they are relatively small and it seems that, once the snuff, do no harm?


 The answer is simple, the filters are made of cellulose acetate, approximately 15 thousand fibers, which are obtained through various chemical processes, this type of plastic is very slow to degrade and, after the processes by which it is manufactured not possible to return to its pure form, making a material NOT BIODEGRADABLE, without forgetting that the filter serves to accumulate snuff certain harmful substances such as nicotine and tar that with the passage of time is transferred to the soil or water, polluting and affecting the biodiversity of the environment.


Today, Mexico has about 14 million smokers who consume approximately 250 million packs per year, resulting in the huge amount of 50 billion cigarette butts. Unfortunately, most of these do not end up in a trash can.


Currently been developed various studies about the damage caused by water cigarette butts, and it has been shown that a single cigarette may contaminate 8 liters of water.


An experiment conducted by the University of San Diego (USA), who investigated, besides the visible trash aesthetic punch this cause, if any impact on life testing it conducted a series of experiments introducing saltwater fish and water sweet half who had different amounts and types of cigarette butts.


The authors used different types of butts with varying amount of snuff-filter cigarettes smoked snuff debris, debris filters without snuff smoked and not smoked cigarette filters without snuff-to find out if these harmful effects were concentrated only in the filter or in the remains of snuff.

They put butts in diluted mineral water and sea water for 24 hours. With a mixture liquid obtained were diluted in six different concentrations, each of which was divided into four, and these four five fish were introduced. They used two species of fish, a marina (‘Atherinops affinis’) and freshwater (‘Pimephales promelas’).

cigarros en el agua

                                                                          Atherinops affinis                                                                Pimephales promelas


The authors fish subjected to that temperature for four days and found that all types of butts were toxic to both species. The most damaging were the cigarette butts and debris filter had smoked snuff: half of the fish sick or died when introduced into a solution of this type butt per liter of water. I was better with the butts smoked but had no traces of snuff: the lethal dose was 1.8 butts / liter for sea water species and 4.3 cigarette butts / l for freshwater species.

In the case of the butts that were made up of a new filter, no smoking and no snuff, it took between 5.1 and 13.5 butts per liter harming fish. The authors believe that the unused filter also is toxic to fish, and this is due to the glue which is used for weighing down the cellulose in this part that is made of cigarettes.

In addition to fish, other marine species that were affected are invertebrates, which showed similar levels of sensitivity to marine bacteria.


Certainly there are some places where you get rid of the butts is not so easy, like beaches or mountains, in any case, if you do not have to deposit boats there, we can always go storing them in a can or other container that will throw later.


However, much is also innovating in this field, since the filters are biodegradable developed a novel invention which is already used and sold in many places, and I could help lower part of the problem. They consist of a mixture of hemp and cotton which makes them 100% biodegradable, rising to serve as a natural fertilizer for all plants, the top brands are OCB and GREENBUTTS.

filtro biodegradable

This type of filter is a good choice to decrease a toxic impact that occurs in the environment because of this waste, however the most important thing is to have an ecological culture in which we have in mind that should not be ignored any elsewhere contaminant than adequate receptacles for this work.


  • Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fishElli Slaughter1,2Richard M Gersberg2Kayo Watanabe2John Rudolph3Chris Stransky3,Thomas E Novotny2 (1San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA 2Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA, 3Nautilus Environmental, San Diego, California, USA). British Medical Journal. Received 18 September 2010. Accepted 4 February 2011.
  • CICEANA. Centro de Información y Comunicación Ambiental de Norte América.

Author information:


tarjeta Marevna Briseida