Litter

  • Litter is a serious problem and an unintended consequence of the smoking ban in workplaces, pubs, clubs and restaurants is the potential increase in cigarette related litter on our streets.
  • The TMA expects smokers, like all members of the public, to accept their responsibilities to keep our environment clean and tidy by disposing of all litter including cigarette butts and packaging, carefully and responsibly.
  • The TMA believes it is important to encourage consumers to properly dispose of cigarette packs and each and every cigarette butt.  Tobacco companies have proposed the encouragement of responsible behaviour through consumer education campaigns and by providing solutions to assist in the responsible disposal of smoking-related litter e.g. BAT funds ‘Butt Stops Here’ stubbis, JTI fund ‘Stub-Tidy’ stubbis and Imperial Tobacco fund ‘Butts-Out’ personal ashtrays.
  • The best way to prevent smoking related litter is through changing people’s behaviour by educating and encouraging personal responsibility, providing solutions and enforcing anti-litter laws.

Background

The TMA recommends their members to remind smokers to dispose of their smoking-related litter properly.

The TMA’s member companies take the issue seriously and as responsible businesses try to influence the public’s behaviour via on-pack messages and the promotion of good practice. Through the AIR initiative leading up to the smoking ban we encouraged the hospitality trade to provide ashtrays and other disposal solutions on their premises.

Placing symbols on the products packaging is only part of the companies’ overall strategy. Our members use other methods of encouraging consumers to dispose of litter properly, e.g. placing a “green dot” symbol on its tobacco products packs in some EU Member States as a contribution to packaging recovery, having a dedicated section on their corporate websites and participation in many city campaigns.

Cigarette Litter Action Group/Keep Britain Tidy

We are engaging with relevant stakeholders to develop solutions that address both our consumer and society’s needs.  The TMA were proactively working closely with Keep Britain Tidy on the smoking-related litter issue.  Keep Britain Tidy is an environmental charity, that campaigns directly to the public and organises smoking-related litter advertising campaigns.  The campaigns covered advertising, education and potential solutions to highlight the responsible disposal of smoking-related litter.  The TMA were approached to assist with ideas, relevant experience and research to make similar future campaigns more successful.  Keep Britain Tidy created a Cigarette Litter Action Group (CLAG) to deal with the growing problem of cigarette-related litter and the TMA were members of the Group during it’s existence in 2007.

Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control (LGDTC)

Some local authorities which have signed the LGDTC take the view that it prevents them from, or justifies a blanket policy of not, engaging with the TMA or industry on a wide range of matters, including anti-litter initiatives. Keep Britain Tidy has concluded that they too must take the same position in order to continue working with such Local Authorities.

In December 2013 the Board of Keep Britain Tidy decided that it would no longer work with the tobacco industry: “Following a review of the political, social and policy landscape by our trustees, our considered view is that it is not in the best interests of our charity to accept any funding from the tobacco manufacturers. We have done so in the past but will no longer be doing so in the future. “(1)

Where a local authority is carrying out functions unrelated to public health, such as its obligations to address litter, nothing in the LGDTC would prevent it from accepting assistance from the TMA or tobacco manufacturers.

In addition, nothing in the LGDTC prevents bodies which are not local authorities (including charities such as Keep Britain Tidy) from engaging with, or accepting assistance from, the tobacco industry, where it would otherwise be appropriate for them to do so. For example, co-operating in the reduction of smoking-related litter.

Biodegradability

Our cigarette filters are biodegradable and can take from one month to three years to decompose, depending on environmental conditions. RYO cigarettes will biodegrade more quickly if no filter is used, as the butt will break down/disperse fairly rapidly.  Even with a filter it might disperse more rapidly than a manufactured cigarette since there is less adhesive binding the cellulose acetate (CA) filter to the paper etc.  TMA member companies have looked at tobacco sheet filters for manufactured cigarettes in the past and found quite rapid dispersal compared with cellulose acetate (plastic) filters.

We continue to research more rapid breakdown, but currently do not know of any practical ways of making consumer-acceptable filters that would degrade quickly enough to resolve short-term litter problems.