Global Environmental Health and Sustainability (JM Samet, Section Editor)

Current Environmental Health Reports

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 208-216

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Tobacco Product Waste: An Environmental Approach to Reduce Tobacco Consumption

  • Thomas E. NovotnyAffiliated withGraduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University Email author 
  • , Elli SlaughterAffiliated withGraduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University


Cigarette butts and other tobacco product wastes (TPW) are the most common items picked up in urban and beach cleanups worldwide. TPW contains all the toxins, nicotine, and carcinogens found in tobacco products, along with the plastic nonbiodegradable filter attached to almost all cigarettes sold in the United States and in most countries worldwide. Toxicity studies suggest that compounds leached from cigarette butts in salt and fresh water are toxic to aquatic micro-organisms and test fish. Toxic chemicals have also been identified in roadside TPW. With as much as two-thirds of all smoked cigarettes (numbering in the trillions globally) being discarded into the environment each year, it is critical to consider the potential toxicity and remediation of these waste products. This article reviews reports on the toxicity of TPW and recommends several policy approaches to mitigation of this ubiquitous environmental blight.


Tobacco product waste Cigarette filters Extended producer responsibility Tobacco consumption