''Cigarette butts present health risks that have never received serious consideration before now,'' said Carmine Ciro Lombardi, a researcher at Rome's National Institute of Technology.
Italian smokers toss an estimated 195 million cigarette butts a day -- 72 billion each year, producing tons of toxic waste, an institute study estimated.
Cigarette butts contain hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals, including radioactive Polonium 210, which is 250,000 times more toxic than cyanide gas, Lombardi told ANSA in a story published Friday.
Some Italian cities have installed special butt-collection bins and established fines of as much as $700 for smokers who litter streets, ANSA reported. Collections from butt bins should be kept apart from regular trash, as is done with used batteries and appliances, to ensure they don't enter landfills, the institute said.