The world ecosystem has lost $186bn in the last ten years as a result of cigarette butts and tobacco plastic wastes estimated to have made their way to the oceans, a report published by the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) has revealed.
The report was released as nations mark this year’s World Oceans Day themed: “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.”
It was also revealed that an estimated $548 million is required annually to manage tobacco product plastic waste, according to the report as tobacco control community advocates have called on countries to save the ocean from “tobacco’s toxic plastics.”
Entitled: “Tobacco’s Toxic Plastics: A Global Outlook” The report explains how uniquely toxic cigarette butts are due to their chemical and heavy metal content.
“The report also mentions that the tobacco industry knew that the plastic fibers of cigarette filters are causing a more aggressive form of cancer. Notably, cigarette butts are comprised primarily of cellulose acetate – a form of non-biodegradable singleuse plastic. According to the report, the tobacco industry’s tactics obscure the environmental and health harms it causes. Tobacco companies and tobacco-funded entities support anti-litter and related campaigns as means of self-promotion, marketing and sponsorship, which are prohibited in many countries,” a statement signed by the Executive Director of GGTC, Bungon Ritthiphakdee and made available to The New Diplomat said.
Ritthiphakdee added that “the report provides an initial conservative estimate of annual post-consumer waste management costs of tobacco products, and secondary costs of tobacco’s plastic waste pollution based on what is known about the level of plastic contamination of oceans and other water bodies. The estimates and extent of the plastic pollution caused by cigarette filters come at a time when the UN declared war on ‘single-use plastics’ and while the international community prepares for a global plastics treaty.”
The report calls on governments to make the tobacco industry pay for environmental harms and invest in independent research into the valuation of tobacco’s environmental harms to make informed policy-decisions, including making the tobacco industry pay for their destructive actions through taxes or levies, or litigation, among others.
It also calls on the environmental sector to ensure that tobacco’s toxic plastics are properly dealt within the global plastics treaty that is being negotiated; particularly, that the tobacco industry is not allowed to partner with governments, to have a seat at the table, or to undermine sponsorship bans in the name of “Extended Producer Responsibility” schemes commonly adopted to deal with single-use plastics. “This is because tobacco products provide no benefit to humanity or economy, and that the tobacco industry should not be treated like any other industry, in accordance with Article 5.3 of the global tobacco control treaty, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”
According to the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), the body aims to address the single greatest obstacle to tobacco control, tobacco industry interference. It is a joint initiative of the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). It is also a key partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) and has been designated as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat.