Ban cigarette butts now!

Action for Smokefree 2025 (ASH) is joining a call from World Wildlife Fund Australia to tackle the impact of cigarette butts on our environment. ASH wants the New Zealand government to ban single use synthetic filters – the leading litter item in our environment.

Discarded cigarette butts are the single most littered item in Aotearoa New Zealand. Over 1.4 billion of these single use plastic filters enter our environment each year.

At an average of 25mm long, the butts end to end would stretch round our entire coastline twice over.

A vast quantity of cigarette butts end up in our oceans and beaches, contaminating waterways and poisoning wildlife.

Synthetic cigarette filters were introduced in the 1950s, with tobacco companies claiming they provided a safer alternative to filter-free cigarettes. But filters do not make smoking significantly less harmful. Instead, they encourage smokers to puff more frequently and draw harder with each puff, increasing the severity of many smoking related diseases including lung cancers.

Now a major report from the World Wildlife Fund, Australia, outlines that butts, predominantly made of non-biodegradable plastics, threaten wildlife and are the most littered item in Australia, costing government A$73M annually in clean-up efforts.  It found the greatest reductions in cigarette butt pollution would likely be achieved by a mandatory national product stewardship scheme and/or ban on single-use plastic filters.

ASH Director, Deborah Hart welcomed the report and said, “The WWF Australia report informs what is required in Aoteoroa New Zealand.  A butt ban will be a double win to protect our environment and protect our people.”

“This government has shown leadership on other single use plastics including bags, and cosmetic microbeads. We’d like to see this extended to single use plastic cigarette filters, which per item exceed almost all other litter found in our environment. They are inconsistent with both our clean green image, and our goal to be a Smokefree nation”.

The Government’s Smokefree 2025 Plan is imminent; a butt ban is being considered.  Ms Hart added, “ASH hopes the Government seizes the opportunity to not only help the environment, but help get us to the Smokefree 2025 goal by banning cigarette butts and thus making cigarettes less appealing to smokers.”

Useful information

  • To find out more about cigarettes butts (or filters) and a butt ban, click HERE
  • To read the WWF Australia report, click HERE
  • To find out more about a smokefree plan – what is required and why, click HERE
  • The Smokefree 2025 goal is that less than 5% of all adults smoke daily by 2025.
  • Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • There are almost 5,000 deaths each year (14 deaths every day).
  • Since 2000, cigarette smoking has caused approximately 100,000 deaths.
  • Around 1 in 10 adults smoke cigarettes daily, but this rises to 1 in 4 among Māori.
  • On average, cigarette smokers consume 10 cigarettes a day (costing $6,500 a year).

 About ASH NZ

ASH NZ - Action for Smokefree 2025, is an independent NGO advocating for evidence based, ethical and effective actions to achieve Smokefree 2025 and reduce preventable deaths and disease caused by cigarette smoking.

To find out more:

Further comment

Deborah Hart 021 379 344; [email protected]

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