New findings from a survey carried out for Keep Britain Tidy to mark the launch of its #BinTheButt campaign reveal that less than half of smokers know that cigarettes contain plastic.
The survey also reveals that one in ten smokers do not consider cigarette butts to be litter, 22 per cent don’t know that putting a cigarette down the drain causes problems to the environment, and ten per cent think cigarettes are biodegradable.
Cigarette butts are made from plastic fibres which means they pose a major threat to marine life and it can take up to 12 years for them to decompose.
Arsenic, lead and nicotine are just some of the harmful chemical ingredients used to make the cigarette filters. Meanwhile toxins from the tobacco residue in the butts pollutes the waterways and endangers animals that ingest them.
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world and ASH Wales is spearheading a campaign for local action to prevent this toxic polluting the environment.
Ash Wales has been calling for local authorities across Wales to ban smoking on beaches to help reduce litter. So far three beaches have put a voluntary smoking ban in place, Caswell Bay and Langland Bay in Swansea and Little Haven in Pembrokeshire, and it is hoped more will soon follow suit.
There is widespread public support for the ban. In a recent survey 61% agreed with banning smoking in communal recreational spaces, such as parks and beaches.
Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales, said: “Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, but not many people are aware just how bad it is for our environment, wildlife and waterways – especially our picturesque beaches.
“In just one hour, children from Llantwit Major Primary School collected 300 cigarette butts. This goes to show the massive scale of the problem, even in small areas.
“By bringing down smoking rates and getting smokers to put their butts in the bin we will help reduce the litter problem which is plaguing our beautiful country.”
A Keep Wales Tidy report published in July showed that cigarettes are the most littered item in the country with cigarette butts found on 80.3 per cent of Welsh streets.
The findings from the Keep Britain Tidy survey show the need to educate people about the real impact of these discarded cigarette butts. Ash Wales welcomes the launch of the #BinTheButt campaign which aims to raise awareness about the environmental consequences of discarding cigarettes in the wrong places.
Mark Child, Cabinet Member for Care, Health and Ageing Well, who backs Ash Wales’ Smoke Free Beaches campaign added:
“We have all become very aware recently about plastic pollution in the environment, particularly the sea, its damage to wildlife and the food chain, the quality of our experience of nature and the outdoors, and ultimately our health. The plastic from cigarette butts stubbed out on beaches mainlines straight in to the sea around our coast. There are lots of reasons not to smoke on the beach, here in Wales or on holiday, and damaging our beautiful coastline and all its wildlife is a very good one, I support #BinTheButt. I am delighted that designating two beaches in Swansea smoke free has led to a marked decrease in butts in the sand and in the water.”
To find out more about ASH Wales’ Smoke Free Beaches campaign and about how you can access help to give up smoking visit www.ash.wales.