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The dirty truth about cigarette filters



"Many smokers assume that filters are made of a biodegradable material," said Elizabeth Smith, who works with tobacco control policy at the University of California San Francisco.

In fact, filters are made from cellulose acetate – a type of plastic that can take up to ten years to break down.
But now the EU is breaking this hidden problem. New rules will require the tobacco industry to finance the purification of cigarette stubs as part of a broader initiative to reduce disposable particles.

Cigarette filters poison our environment ̵

1; but do everything to help smokers & # 39; lungs?

Scope of the problem

About 6 trillion cigarettes are produced a year, and over 90% of them contain plastic filters. It's more than a million tons of plastic.
Throwing a cigarette stub on the ground is one of the most accepted forms of waste, according to the World Health Organization. Ca. Two-thirds of the mouthpieces are dumped irresponsibly – stumped onto sidewalks or fell into the grids, from where they are transported via storm drains to streams, rivers and oceans.
  A seagull in Rome fails a cigarette stump for something edible.

Cigarettes have become the first thing gathered by Washington DC-based Ocean Conservancy's global beach cleanup every year since the initiative began in 1986. Its volunteers have accumulated more than 60 million shots.

Nick Mallos, director of the group's Trash Free Seas program, says "many of those found on beaches are simply left by beachgoers."

A recent study put fish in water where the cigarette stumps were soaked and removed. After four days, half of the fish was dead, showing that cigarette lumps "seep into the aquatic environment and are toxic and lethal to living creatures," said Thomas Novotny, Emeritus Professor of Global Health at San Diego State University, who was involved in the study.

And con?

Plastic filters were invented in the 1950s in response to lung cancer fear.

Tobacco smoke contains approx. 250 harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, arsenic and polonium-210, a strong radioactive substance that has been used in murder. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.

Filters were designed to reduce lung cancer by blocking toxins.

  Scientists test cigarette filters with a smoking machine.

However, in the mid-1960s, scientists realized that tar and nicotine they tried to filter out were the substances that caused cigarettes to satisfy smokers.

Companies kept filters, but made them less effective in allowing through this hit of nicotine.

Bradford Harris dug deep into the tobacco company archives while a graduate student in history and technology at Stanford University. He writes that tobacco companies decided to keep the filters as a "marketing tool" while smokers still got the decisive nicotine hit. They claimed health benefits from filters called "Deceptive" by the World Health Organization. CNN contacted the Tobacco Producers' Association, which represents a number of major tobacco companies in the UK, but did not receive replies.
  An ad for Viceroy cigarettes.
In fact, while filters blocked some toxins, they also made cigarette smoke smoother to breathe, and it encouraged smokers to breathe more often. Filters also changed the way tobacco burns, actually increasing some toxins in the smoke.
With filtered cigarettes, the rate of the most common type of lung cancer caused by filter-free smoking decreased.
  Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause a number of cruel diseases.  </div>
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<p>  "The survival rate of the two types of cancer is basically the same," says David Wilson, a pulmonologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, adding that there is no are convincing signs that filters "have a beneficial effect on lung cancer survival." In short, improved filters do not improve the health of smokers. But they aggravated our environment. </p>
<h3>  Pollution Solutions </h3>
<div class= In some cities around the world, charges have already been levied on cigarette packets to fund street cleaning, while elsewhere, trash cans are fined.
Mervyn Witherspoon, an expert in the field of cigarette filter chemistry, believes that a better solution is to implement biodegradable filters. He is an advisor to Greenbutts, who has developed a filter made of natural materials, including flax, hemp and cotton.
  The Keep Britain Tidy campaign dropped a huge cigarette stump at London's Trafalgar Square to raise awareness.

But Elizabeth Smith, the US based tobacco policy expert, says that biodegradable filters still contain toxins that can take a long time to break down. And smokers can feel "allowed" for biodegradable filters, she adds, which could make the problem worse.

In October 2018, the European Parliament supported a radical proposal to oblige EU countries to remove 50% plastic from cigarette filters by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

However, EU country representatives later rejected these reduction targets. Instead, tobacco companies are responsible for financing information campaigns, supplying public ashtrays and waste collection, and adding labels to packets of filtered cigarettes, saying they contain environmentally harmful plastics.

  Public ash hill on the state capitol complex in st. Paul, Minnesota.

Meadhbh Bolger, Resource Proficiency Campaigns at the Friends of the Earth, says that the new laws are "an important first step," but believes that governments should go beyond these measures and put binding targets.

"We hope governments will realize that having a planet we can live on is more important than the interests of the tobacco industry."


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