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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2037

An environment friendly decision

By Manjari Peiris

The World Health Organization states that cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded piece of waste globally and the most frequent item of litter picked up on beaches and water edges worldwide.

The non-biodegradable cellulose acetate filter from manufactured cigarettes is the main cigarette butt waste and trillions of these butts are discarded annually.

Hazardous substances including arsenic, lead, and nicotine and ethyl phenol are found in cigarette butts. These poisons are leached from discarded butts into aquatic environments and soil.

Other studies also show that cigarette butts can cause digestive blockages if eaten, and they have been found in the stomachs of fish, whales, birds and other marine animals.

Thailand which is famous for its beautiful sandy white beaches and stunning clear blue seas which are frequently visited by families and tourists has taken a bold decision to ban smoking in its popular beaches from November to reduce environmental litter and pollution.

This ban will include 20 beaches in the provinces of Phuket, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri and Songkhla, Koh Samui, and Pattaya. Those who violate the ban would be fined up to THB 100,000 (more or less US$ 3,000) or face imprisonment for up to a year. The Marine and coastal Resource Department found between 63,000 and 138,000 cigarette butts on kilometer stretch of Patong Beach, Phuket. Discarded cigarette butts accounted for a third of all beach waste collected by the department.

The Article 8 Guidelines of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) on the Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke states that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and only 100 percent smoke-free environments can fully protect the public from the lethal effects of tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including at least 70 known to cause cancer and the rest causing other serious health problems.

Smoke-free beaches provide families and children healthy environments in which they are not exposed to the health harms of secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS). Even brief exposure can cause immediate and serious health harms.

This decision taken by the government of Thailand is not only good for the environment but ultimately good for people’s health and the economy. It is high time that Sri Lanka government also take such decision to protect people's health as well as the environment.

- Asian Tribune -

An environment friendly decision
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