Mar 07, 2016
By Michael Kramer
A professor in B.C. is demanding that tobacco companies take responsibility for discarded cigarette butts – which a new study calls one of the most common waste products in the world.
Simon Fraser University’s professor Kelly Lee suggests that a new regulatory approach is long overdue – for what she considers to be an industry-created problem.
Lee wrote her paper in collaboration with the Washington, D.C.-based Cigarette Butt Pollution Project.
She says up to five trillion cigarette butts – are tossed aside every year worldwide.
The study found that two-thirds of butts from smoked cigarettes become litter – are poured down storm drains or are buried in landfills – and Lee says the dumping leads to costly cleanup – and sometimes emergency response – as in the incidents of more than 35 grass fires from burning butts that were thrown over just one week – last summer in Vancouver.
Professor Lee believes the tobacco industry should be legally responsible for safe disposal of the butts, similar to industries that produce other hazardous consumer goods – including paint and fluorescent light bulbs.