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Cigarette Tops Are Threatening Our Health and Environment

Minh Vũ Dec 07, 2019
We generally tend to ignore the hazards caused due to the cigarettes tops as they are much smaller than plastic bottles, but actually they are even more harmful.

The Threat to Our Lips

Cigarettes are among the main sources of current global waste crisis. Harmful micro-plastic in cigarette tops are found in significant amount in the sea. Many suggest that cigarette companies and businesses must be held responsible for this circumstance.

They are Everywhere

It is estimated that smoking industry produces 5.6 trillion cigarettes a year, with more than 1 billion consumers; two third of the cigarette tops are indiscriminately thrown away which drift to seas. More than 12 billion cigarette tops are disposed worldwide and each of them takes 18 months to 10 years to dissolve.

It's Threatening Lives

Cigarette tops, made from undissolvable plastic fibers, are most pervasive waste found in oceans in last 3 decades. They are swallowed by more than 70% sea birds, 30% sea turtles, etc. While they don’t directly suffocate turtles or obstruct whale stomachs, environment activists in U.S. are actively pushing for a total ban on it.

What Can We Do?

To solve this problem, there are 3 main objectives needed to accomplish:
  • Organize smoking rooms;
  • Improve community concern on smoking harms;
  • Enhance sanctions for throwing cigarette tops improperly.

What About the Businesses?

Cigarette companies, considering their power, do not contribute enough to environmental protection measures regardless of their efforts in anti-waste activities like World Cleanup Day, improving community concern campaigns, etc. Biodegradable top is not an efficient solution.

We Need More Measures

Co-founder & CEO of Ocean Preservancy (Hong Kong), Doug Woodring said that cigarette companies’ efforts in reducing harmful effects from cigarette tops is inadequate. Comparing to straws and water bottles, we tend to ignore cigarettes tops as they are smaller. Strict legal sanctions are needed as a better solution.

Hope from Taxing

One suggested measure is taxing cigarette top to help funding clean up activities or building initiative systems that urge smokers to throw their tops at proper places. Raising taxes will, in effect, reduce cigarette consumption, while demanding more environmental responsibility from companies will ease negative effects of cigarette production process.

On the Front

Currently, governments are shifting to EPR law system, which forces companies to take responsibility for their consumed products, to address difficult environmental issues. France is pioneering in this field. Any French companies who don’t actively handle environmental problems arising in their production process, will face legal problems.

New Law System

In June 2019, European Union issued an order on reducing environmental effects of some plastic products. The paper mentions on applications of EPR in smoking industry since 2024.

Contributed by Minh Hoang Vu, co-founder of remminhphat.vn.