Study Describes Cigarette Butts As 'Worst Contaminant Of Our Oceans' - Not Plastic Straws

It is estimated that more than 60 million cigarette butts have been collected from beaches over 32 years

A study from NBC News has described cigarette butts as the 'worst contaminant of our oceans' - claiming they cause more damage than plastic straws.

The study also states that cigarette butts have long been the single most collected item on the world's beaches, with an estimated total of more than 60,000,000 collected over 32 years.

While environmentalists are calling for a ban on the plastic product, San Francisco introduced a 60 cent fee on cigarettes sales - using the estimated $3,000,000 raised to pay for cleaning up litter.

'A marketing tool'

"It's pretty clear there is no health benefit from filters. They are just a marketing tool. And they make it easier for people to smoke," said Thomas Novotny, Professor of public health at San Diego State University.

"It's also a major contaminant, with all that plastic waste. It seems like a no-brainer to me that we can't continue to allow this."

'Non-biodegradable trash'

Earlier this year, more than 240 volunteers in Brussels collected 270,000 cigarette butts in three hours, posting the shocking results on social media.

Instagram user Leonothappy, posted images of all the cigarette butts being poured onto the floor, captioned: "A cigarette butt is a non-biodegradable trash, the sewers in our cities are no ashtrays. One cigarette butt pollutes 500 liters of water. Dear smokers, please adopt the habit to use pocket ashtrays or throw your extinguished cigarette in a litter bin."

Christina Scotson