Marine conservation non-profit Our Seas Our Future (OSOF),strongly supports a plan to prohibit filters in smoked tobacco products, as included in the Government’s proposed Smokefree 2025 Action Plan. As well as reducing the appeal and addictiveness of tobacco for individual and population health benefits, prohibition of filters would help prevent ongoing environmental harm from this pervasive form of plastic pollution.
Used cigarette filters are the most frequent item of litter picked up around beaches and water edges worldwide, and New Zealand is no exception. “During clean-up events around our beach environments, we will often pick up between one and four thousand used filters within the space of an hour,” says Lesl van der Voorn for Our Seas Our Future.
“While it’s important that used butts are disposed of responsibly, the problem really is in the fact that they’re being created in the first place”, says Miss van der Voorn. Cigarette butts contain plastic and are not biodegradable. Plastic particles and toxicants can continue to affect aquatic environments for many years, even when it looks like the butt may have broken apart.
OSOF will be making a submission in the consultation process for the Government’s proposed action plan and encourages the public to also get involved.. “We are grateful to Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall for including this particular action within the proposed plan”, says Miss van der Voorn. “Preventing manufacture of cigarette filters at the source is the best option to prevent cigarette pollution.”
In 2019, OSOF launched its No Butts campaign to highlight the negative impacts of littering cigarette butts and encourage behavioural change towards responsible butt disposal. Since its launch, through OSOF collaborative events, an estimated 32,000 plus cigarette butts have been diverted away from our oceans.