We know that our planet is amidst great danger particularly when we look at the challenges posed by environmental catastrophe. The consequences have manifested in various ways. From depletion of the ozone layer to rising temperatures, there is a need more than ever to be worried about the problem. When we talk about sources of pollution, we usually tend to think of the disposal of plastic bottles, straws etc. It is true that these things are of great danger to marine life. Recent news from the Philippines showed how a whale had ingested tons of plastics which became a reason for its death. However, new empirical data has something else to suggest. The largest source of marine pollution does not come from plastic waste rather is caused by the disposal of cigarette butts!
Cigarette Butts & Marine Pollution
The news should definitely surprise a number of people. First, as mentioned earlier most of us believe plastic (or oil spills) to be the greatest danger to marine life. While the disposal of such products is problematic in its own sense, the garbage accumulated through cigarette butts often gets ignored. People unknowingly would smoke and dispose off the cigarette without realizing the potential consequences.
That being said, scientists have called the situation to be of grave concern. These small waste materials, sometimes missed by the naked eye, are causing irreplaceable damage to sea life. Though they may literally be found on the shore, most cigarette butts end up inside the ocean. Here they may be ingested by the marine animals putting their lives at great risk.
From what is currently known, most fish population have died simply because of this reason. The chemicals contained within the cigarettes act as immediate poison for fish and other sea life. Additionally, the disposal has itself also been responsible for severe damage to the natural habitat of these animals.
The Silence of the Tobacco Industry
It is true that cigarette butts are causing substantial harm to marine lives. At the same time, it is also true that most sea-life protection organizations are aware of the inflicted damage. It is viable from the fact that each year, just from the shore itself, thousands of tons of cigarettes waste is collected. Unfortunately, the grievances of the organization often turn deaf years!
On a closer look, we come to know that the Tobacco industry has a big role to play in the silencing of the issue. The sale and purchase of tobacco and related products make up a big share of the country’s economy. In the USA, as many as 5.6 million cigarettes are produced and sold in markets every year. Because the industry constitutes a strong lobby, it is able to influence decisions in its favour. As a result, any action to curb the situation is never really taken into account.
The data suggesting the danger posed by cigarette butts should alert everyone. It should also tell you about the inadequacy of the government to take any meaningful steps.
So, what can be done about the problem?
At least we as morally responsible citizens can play an active role to prevent the problem from exacerbating. We should stop smoking in public spaces (like the beach etc). Needless to say, cigarette butts should properly be disposed of.