Taking action on smoking and health
Cigarette butts are the most common items of litter on our streets and beaches.
Almost all of the four thousand million cigarette butts discarded each year in Scotland are made of cellulose acetate - a form of plastic, which takes years to degrade into progressively smaller pieces, leaching toxins into the environment as it does so.
Although two thirds of smokers think filtered cigarettes are less harmful, filters do not actually bring health benefits and instead act to make smoking less harsh and more palatable. By making it easier to smoke, the health impact is likely to be negative, particularly through easing the path for young people to take up smoking.
Using white packaging, or designating brands as “lights” gave a misleading impression of reduced health harm, so that these approaches have been banned. Menthol cigarettes act to make smoking more palatable, and will be banned in May 2020. What then should we do with cigarette filters, which also mislead people into thinking cigarettes are less harmful?
The growing concern over plastic pollution has led to proposals for restrictions on single-use plastic consumer items such as cups, straws or cotton bud stems. Cigarette filters are single-use plastic consumer items in exactly the same way, yet so far are only subject to EU proposals that in the future producers should help to pay for clean-up operations. Why should drinking coffee or tea be treated more harshly than smoking?
ASH Scotland is working in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society to call for cigarette filters to always be on the list of plastic items considered for regulatory action. We are calling on the Cabinet Secretary on the Environment, Climate Change and Rural Affairs to direct her Expert Group to consider and report on the appropriate approach.
Read our Fastfacts on plastic cigarette filters, our recent blog on the campaign and the announcement of our call to the Cabinet Secretary.
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.