Bengaluru: Smoke at your own risk, but think about the environment when you throw the butts on the streets or public spaces. In an almost unanimous reaction to the cigarette butt issue, doctors and activists are strongly condemning the callous attitude of authorities and also smokers, when it comes to trashing these cigarette butts.
According to various researches and studies done across the world, cigarette butts not only pose a threat to the environment but also damage the river systems. Surprisingly, tobacco which is biodegradable, breaks down over time but other ingredients used to make the cigarette, do not. Filters are made from something called cellulose acetate, which is a form of plastic.
What makes the situation grim for the city is the fact that the IT city has roughly 4%-6% of the population (1.10 crore) smokers and on an average cigarettes smoked per day is 6.4 or half a dozen cigarettes per day. Hence, approximately thirty lakh, ninety seven thousand and six hundred cigarettes are smoked daily in the city. Which means that many butts. Sadly, no study or survey has been conducted to find the exact number of cigarettes smoked daily.
“People smoke and throw the butt anywhere. The the cigarette butt is not biodegradable and is mixed with general garbage. There should be a proper mechanism to dispose of the cigarette butt,” says M Mahesh Reddy, Karnataka Swaraj Jana Sangathana, who along with his team of seven members, recently collected two kilos of cigarette butts from certain locations in the city, including Anand Rao circle, Vidhan Soudha, Press Club and MG Road to the Pollution Control board office. “We have given a report on this issue by collecting almost two kilos of cigarette butts from the Pollution Control board, who have sent it to the central Pollution Control board for a response,” adds Mahesh.
“People make a conscious and personal choice when it comes to smoking, but they have no right to harm others and the environment. Cigarettes have become a cause of serious concern for environmentalists. More than 100 billion cigarette butts are discarded in India every year which contain harmful and cancer-causing chemicals. What is needed now is for tobacco control and environmental activists to work together to hold the cigarette industry accountable for the toxic mess they've caused. And, people need to be made aware of the mess they are creating after smoking,” says Professor Pankaj Chaturvedi, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.
“The issue is very alarming and we need a lot of awareness among the youth and the policy makers as well. Cigarette butts can even end up along shorelines, waterways, and wetlands. In an annual global survey by the Ocean Conservancy, it was shown that cigarette filters are the most commonly littered item out of all littered items. The real issue occurs when they begin to impact children, wildlife, and pets. Cigarette filters and butts are poisonous,” informs Dr Vishal Rao, consultant, Head and Neck Surgeon, In-charge, Head and Neck Services, Department of Surgical Oncology, HealthCare Global.
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