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Butt really? The environmental impact of cigarettes
  1. Cheryl G Healton1,
  2. K Michael Cummings2,
  3. Richard J O'Connor2,
  4. Thomas E Novotny3
  1. 1American Legacy Foundation, Washington, DC, USA
  2. 2Department of Health Behavior, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  3. 3Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cheryl G Healton, CEO, Legacy, American Legacy Foundation, 1724 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20036 USA; chealton{at}

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Are cigarette butts more than just an unsightly litter problem? Do the chemicals leached out of them just ‘go away’—biodegraded and diluted by our streams, rivers and oceans so that we can forget about them? This special supplement of Tobacco Control brings together the currently known science about cigarette butt waste and sets the stage for a new research agenda that can unite the tobacco control community with environmental activists who have long been appalled by the single most commonly collected waste item found each year on beach clean-ups. In addition, butts are also reported to comprise an estimated 25–50 percent of all collected litter items from roads and streets—making them a concern for the quality of urban life. Cigarette butts contain all the carcinogenic chemicals, pesticides, and nicotine that make tobacco use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 trillions and counting) into the global environment each year.

In this issue, Moerman and Potts demonstrate the presence of heavy metals in cigarette butt leachates—the …

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