Cigarette filters at UTM have become an issue on campus. The UTM Grounds department spends hours on a weekly basis clearing the cigarette filters around campus.

I want to convince you to dispose of your cigarette filter in the receptacles. When you place your filter in the receptacle, you keep our environment clean and you reduce the workload of staff. You should feel proud of your contribution.

Cigarette filters rank as the number one source of pollution across the world. I write as someone who cleans cigarette filters on campus. I understand you don’t intend to inconvenience staff, nor do you intend to pollute the environment, however you must understand that cigarette filters are toxic. They contain a plastic called cellulose acetate.  The cellulose acetate found in filters absorbs the toxins from the tobacco and reduces the amount of smoke that enters your lungs. These filters protect your lungs from toxins. When you flick your “butts” onto the ground, you flick the poisons into the environment. 

These toxins degrade the health of our soils, kill plants, and harm animals. You can search Google for images of animals that have ingested these filters and choked themselves to death. Filters require 12-18 months to degrade.

My mission is not to make you quit smoking. My mission is to make you more environmentally aware. When you dispose of your cigarette filter in the receptacles, you express respect towards the community of UTM.

You can find nine smoking areas across our campus. UTM designed these areas to prevent second-hand smoke and to encourage people to dispose of their cigarette filters in the receptacles. You can identify these areas by signs: a black bench and a grey cigarette pole. If you can develop the habit of disposing your cigarette filters in the receptacle, you will encourage others to follow your example.

UTM plans to phase-out these areas in the near-future and become a smoke-free campus.  We will join other universities, like the University of Guelph, that have been smoke-free since the May of 2019. Since Guelph has adopted the smoke-free policy, they have noticed a reduction in the amount of cigarette litter across the campus and they have noticed a reduction in the amount of people who smoke on campus.

 If you would like to learn about UTM’s smoke-free policy, you can find information at This website will explain why UTM has chosen to go smoke-free. Through the link, you can also find information on the effects that smoking can have on our planet.

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