Adolescent health brief| Volume 68, ISSUE 4, P823-826, April 2021

Perceptions About the Impact of Cigarette Filters on the Environment and Smoking-Related Behaviors



      Examine adolescents’ and young adults’ (AYAs) knowledge and perceptions about the composition and environmental harms of cigarette filters and determine how perceptions are associated with support for policy interventions.


      Cross-sectional, convenience sample from 10 California schools. AYAs (N = 429; 70% < 21 years) were surveyed about tobacco use, perceptions of cigarette filters, their impact on the environment, and cigarette sales bans.


      Most agreed that filters are harmful to the environment and not biodegradable (89%, n = 383 respectively); fewer knew filters are made of plastic (43%, n = 185). AYAs who agreed that filters are harmful to the environment were more supportive of cigarette sales bans (OR = 2.78 [95% CI: 1.18, 6.58]).


      Knowledge of the environmental harms of cigarettes among AYAs may strengthen support for tobacco control. More research is needed to further understand the knowledge and attitudes about the environmental impact of tobacco and to clarify how this might add support for tobacco-related policies.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • World Health Organization
        Tobacco and its environmental impact: An overview.
        2017 (Available at:)
        • Stigler Granados P.
        • Fulton L.
        • Patlan E.N.
        • et al.
        Global health perspectives on cigarette butts and the environment.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019; 16: 1858
        • Slaughter E.
        • Gersberg R.M.
        • Watanabe K.
        • et al.
        Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish.
        Tob Control. 2011; 20: 25-29
        • Smith E.A.
        • Novotny T.E.
        Whose butt is it? Tobacco industry research about smokers and cigarette butt waste.
        Tob Control. 2011; 20: 2-9
        • Rath J.M.
        • Rubenstein R.A.
        • Curry L.E.
        • et al.
        Cigarette litter: Smokers’ attitudes and behaviors.
        Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012; 9: 2189-2203
      1. Kotz D, Kastaun S. Do people know that cigarette filters are mainly composed of synthetic material? A representative survey of the German population (the DEBRA study). Tob Control. Epub ahead of print: [28 April 2020].

        • Czoli C.D.
        • Hammond D.
        Cigarette packaging: Youth perceptions of “natural” cigarettes, filter references, and contraband tobacco.
        J Adolesc Health. 2014; 54: 33-39
        • O’Connor R.J.
        • Bansal-Travers M.
        • Cummings K.M.
        • et al.
        Filter presence and tipping paper color influence consumer perceptions of cigarettes.
        BMC Public Health. 2015; 15: 1279
        • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health
        National Cancer Institute. Risks associated with smoking cigarettes with low Machine Measured Yields of tar and nicotine.
        (Smoking Tob Control Monogr 13. Available at:) (Published October 2001. Accessed April 28, 2020)
      2. Uddin SMF, Khan MN. Young Consumer’s Green Purchasing behavior: Opportunities for Green Marketing. J Glob Marketing. 31:270-281.

        • Davis T.
        • Francis J.E.
        The young consumer-citizen: Nationhood and environmentalism in children’s identity narratives.
        Marketing Theor. 2014; 4: 417-429
        • Ballew M.
        • Marlon J.
        • Rosenthal S.
        • et al.
        Do younger generations care more about global warming? Yale University and George Mason University.
        Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, New Haven, CT2019
        • Roder Green A.L.
        • Putschew A.
        • Nehls T.
        Littered cigarette butts as a source of nicotine in urban waters.
        J Hydrol. 2014; 519: 3466-3474
        • Sonnenberg J.
        • Bostic C.
        • Halpern-Felsher B.
        Support for Aggressive tobacco control interventions among California adolescents and young adults.
        J Adolesc Health. 2020; 66: 506-509
        • Unger J.B.
        • Rohrbach L.A.
        • Howard K.A.
        • et al.
        Attitudes toward anti-tobacco policy among California youth: Associations with smoking status, psychosocial variables and advocacy actions.
        Health Educ Res. 1999; 14: 751-763
        • McKelvey K.
        • Baiocchi M.
        • Halpern-Felsher B.
        Adolescents’ and young adults’ use and perceptions of pod-based electronic cigarettes.
        JAMA Netw Open. 2018; 1: 3183535
        • Hendlin Y.H.
        Alert: Public health Implications of electronic cigarette waste.
        Am J Public Health. 2018; 108: 1489-1490
        • Novotny T.E.
        • Slaughter E.
        Tobacco product waste: An environmental approach to reduce tobacco consumption.
        Curr Envir Health Rpt. 2014; 1: 208-216
        • Federal Trade Commission
        Federal trade Commission cigarette Report for 2018.
        Federal Trade Commission, Washington2019