Issues Environment

Cigarettes = Plastics

The most littered single-use plastic on Earth

When you think of single-use plastics, do cigarettes come to mind? They should. Cigarette filters, which are in nearly all commercially made cigarettes, contain plastic. When it comes to single-use plastic pollution, they’re no different from plastic bags or bottles—only more common. The industry knows its filters are contributing to this global environmental threat, but keeps producing them anyway.

Cigarette filters contain a type of plastic called cellulose acetate. When they’re discarded, they can degrade into microplastics.

Nearly all commercial cigarettes contain these filters

The problem is big. Cigarette butts are the most common form of single-use plastic waste, and the industry continues to manufacture trillions more every year. Industry-sponsored litter clean-ups don’t even come close to solving the problem.

Every minute, people dispose of 8.5 million cigarette butts. That's enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in under an hour.

Independent research shows that filters do not make smoking healthier. The industry markets filters as a way to make cigarettes seem safer, but they can actually increase the harms of smoking, including when smokers inhale and ingest the plastic fibers found in filters.

Cigarettes must be subject to single-use plastic regulation. The tobacco industry should have no role in creating these regulations, given its history of manipulating science and attempting to interfere in policy for its commercial benefit.

The plastic contained in cigarettes is harmful to people and the environment. That’s why cigarettes must be regulated as a single-use plastic.

Download the fact sheet to learn more.