Did you know? Cigarette butts contaminate our water supply

Experts say cigarette butts aren't biodegradable.

Cigarette butts are a common source of pollution -- and they may be causing more harm to the environment and health than previously thought.

According to a recent article by the CBC, cigarette filters aren't made from materials that easily biodegrade. They may look like they're comprised of paper and cotton but they're actually made from microfibres that take years to break down.

A 2018 report identified cigarette butts as the largest source of ocean pollution, surpassing plastic straws.

Filters from consumed cigarettes are laden with toxic chemicals. As they break down in the environment, they can be ingested by wildlife.

Experts say they routinely enter the water supply and the long-term health impacts are unknown.

Cigarette butts are "probably getting into us and we don't know what the effects are to humans. But we're literally eating and drinking our litter," Lisa Erdle, an expert on microplastics and microfibres at the University of Toronto, told the CBC.

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Several Canadian cities have taken steps to curb smoking in an effort to improve public health and the environment.

Toronto's latest anti-littering campaign, for example, focuses on improperly-discarded cigarette butts, citing them as its main source of litter.

"I think the truth is that we just have to educate people to stop this bad behaviour," Mayor John Tory told the CBC.

Hamilton, Ont. is rolling out a similar campaign, with a city-wide clean-up blitz scheduled on April 27.