It’s well-known that smoking affects the lungs and heart and also increases the risks of stroke, blood clots, prematurely ageing skin, brittle bones and cancers of the lips, tongue, throat and stomach.
But did you know that cigarette butts contain cellulose acetate – a form of plastic which can take up to twelve years to degrade? The butts leak toxins that contaminate water and harm marine life and the environment, and cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food.
Smoking also affects towns, streets, parks, car parks and beaches with the litter left behind by smokers, which is the most common type of litter. Not only does it make streets look dirty, but it impacts on the public’s perception of an area, as well as being time-consuming to clean up due to the butts being small and getting trapped in cracks and grates on the ground.
Research has found that many smokers do not actually consider cigarette butts litter, but they are in fact classified as such, and littering is an offence under the ‘Policing of Roads (Jersey) Regulations 1959’. If you throw your cigarette butt on the ground you can be fined up to £500, and there is no doubt that greater enforcement of this law would do a great deal to discourage smokers from doing this.
The Parish of St Helier is raising awareness that ‘cigarette butts are litter too’ by displaying this message on one of its road sweeping vehicles. The launch of this truck will coincide with the distribution of special pouches which will be provided free to smokers as well as to gum chewers, enabling litter to be stored for responsible disposal. Butt pouches are available from the Town Hall’s reception area, open daily on week days between 9am and 5pm.
The Parish would also like to encourage businesses to provide ashtrays outside their premises, together with a number of small stainless steel cigarette bins – which can be purchased at cost. Alternatively, there is an opportunity to sponsor a number of litter bins which have stubbing plates on top with a large ashtray underneath.
To participate in this campaign, or for more information, please contact Municipal Services Director, Debra D’Orleans, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01534 811708.