The Greek Cancer Society has called on smokers to refrain from leaving cigarette butts on the country’s beaches, underlining the risks to public health and the environment from an estimated 22 billion cigarette ends discarded on streets and beaches every year.
“Dear smokers, if you cannot avoid smoking, at least make sure that you put your butts into some kind of makeshift ashtray… and then dispose of them in a garbage bin,” the society said.
According to estimates by conservation groups, cigarette ends account for nearly 40 percent of the garbage removed from beaches.
The society also called on the government and local authorities to launch awareness campaigns so that swimmers take greater care of the country’s beaches. Such drives could be a challenge in Greece, where a ban on smoking in public spaces introduced seven years ago has seen scant enforcement.
In addition to an awareness campaign, the Greek Cancer Society proposes also measures like
- a money-back guarantee scheme for cigarette butts
- involvement of tobacco companies in the beach cleaning cost
- warnings on cigarette packages about the impact of cigarette waste on environment
- installation of outdoor ashtrays (cigarette collectors)
- Ban smoking at the beaches if other measures fail.
PS As a smoker and regular swimmer, I don’t even bother anymore to look for a trash bin even at popular beaches along the Athens coastline. I simply bring my waste back home.
But the number of cigarette butts especially at sand beaches is stunning! I wanted to shoot a picture but was kind of ashamed of the disaster.