A far bigger problem according to NBC News is cigarette butts. They reported that it is the number one human-caused contaminant in the world’s oceans, and it has managed to avoid regulation so far.
The main issue is cigarette filters, which Thomas Novotny, professor of public health at San Diego State University, told NBC News had “no health benefit”. He said it “seems like a no-brainer to me that we can’t continue to allow this”.
According to Professor Novotny “the vast majority of the 5.6 trillion cigarettes manufactured worldwide each year come with filters made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that can take a decade or more to decompose.
“As many as two-thirds of those filters are dumped irresponsibly each year,” says Novotny, who founded the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project. He hopes to change attitudes towards cigarette filters through his campaign.
Since 1986 cigarette butts have been the most collected item on ocean beaches, with about 60 million found in 32 years.