There is one small kind of single use plastic which everyone tends to overlook. This single use plastic is literally everywhere and littering the environment as bad as other single use plastic products. It is cigarette bud.
This kind of single use plastic is usually ignored because it is so small that it can slip out of our sight easily. Not only that, because of the same reason cigarette smokers usually also ignore its effect on the environment and throw it away easily.
Fortunately, not everyone misses the opportunity to fight this single use plastic, and take a good measurement to control it. Here is how Spain controls the cigarette bud litter in the country and what we can expect from the control.
Smokers in Spain, be aware of how you dispose your cigarette buds.
The Law for Cigarette Buds
Spain’s environmental lawmakers finally took action to control their cigarette bud waste by ruling a law that addresses this single use plastic. In the law, it is stated that now cigarette companies in the country have to clean up the mess they make.
While it doesn’t mean that the companies have to pick the cigarette buds on their own hands one by one, they still have to be responsible for the cleanup. The solution offered in the new law is for the companies to pay for the cleanup bills.
This law is a part of bigger measures meant to increase recycling and reduce environmental waste. Not only cigarette buds, it also affects other single use plastic products such as plastic cutlery and cotton buds.
Not only that, cigarette manufacturers are also expected to have the responsibility to educate people. They are required to educate the impacts of cigarette bud litter to the environment and why they should not throw it away carelessly.
A study by zero waste society Rezero from Catalan calculated that it would cost up to 1 billion euro for the cigarette companies, with estimation of around 15 euros per citizen annually. Such amount of money may not be the burden of cigarette companies alone, since they can share the burden by increasing the cost of their products.
How Harmful Cigarette Buds Are?
Cigarette buds is actually one of the most common types of litter in our environment. In many countries with no or weaker regulation about cigarette smoking, like Indonesia, the buds can be found littering everywhere.
The problem with that is not only how hard it is to decompose naturally, like around 10 years. It is also about the toxic substances that the buds release before, during and after the decomposition process to the environment.
One single bud may contain various toxic compounds such as formaldehyde, nicotine, chromium, cadmium, and a variety of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In addition to that, it also may contain two of the most dangerous chemical compounds which are lead and arsenic.
Talking about the decomposition process of the buds, don’t be mistaken into thinking that it is biodegradable like toilet paper. In fact, according to UC Berkeley University Health Services, it is not biodegradable and can only be broken down into its smaller pieces by ultraviolet ray.
Because of that, while the buds may be broken down, but the toxic chemicals that it contains is not processed by the nature. As a result, it stays there and never disappear until someone or something take it over.
Impacts to Marine Ecosystem
What makes the buds even worse is that the impacts of their presence may also affect the marine ecosystem. And if you think that the number of cigarette buds going into the sea is so little, then you are wrong.
“Tobacco products are the most littered item on the planet, containing over 7000 toxic chemicals, which leech into our environment when discarded. Roughly 4.5 trillion cigarette filters pollute our oceans, rivers, city sidewalks, parks, soil and beaches every year,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO.
Because of that number, cigarette buds is the planet’s second highest plastic pollution form. It needs to be noted WHO also counts smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes in this matter because they also contribute no less.
There is a funny fact about cigarette buds, that most of the smokers do not know about. Despite being marketed as a ‘safer way to smoke’, up until nowadays there is still clear evidence showing that it actually works.
Because of that, WHO pushes lawmakers to treat the cigarette filters as a kind of single use plastic just like other kinds of products. In addition to that, WHO even pushes lawmakers to ban the excessive use of cigarette filters.
Pushing The Young
As mentioned above, while it sounds like a threat to the companies, but it actually is a threat to cigarette smokers. The burden of the cost will be added to the cost of cigarette products, meaning cigarette smokers should expect significant rise to the cost of the products they consume.
Will it be another reason to quit the bad habit for them? It is hoped so. According to a data, 22% of Spaniards smoke, which is a little bit higher if compared to European Union average of 18%. Most of them are young customers, meaning they are exposed to the toxic chemicals in the cigarettes pretty early.
Another push that Spain lawmakers used to reduce the number of young smokers is by designating public areas like beaches as smoke free area. At least there are 525 public beaches are now designated as smoke free area.
Not only Spain, France and the city of San Fransico, California has also taken steps to cut the cigarette buds litter down. They follow the same rule which ask the litterer, or in this case the cigarette companies, to pay for the cleanup of cigarette buds.
This should be an action that every country tries to adopt. If not, the huge amount of money that is needed to clean up the cigarette buds will be taken from taxpayers’ money. Why should we become responsible for other people’s bad decision?
Leave a Reply