Cigarette stubs and butts are among the most littered item in the world, according to environmentalists and waste management authorities, and the UAE is not an exception. Local authorities and environmental groups have reported that nearly half a million cigarette butts have been collected by authorities from beaches alone in 2017.
The environmental pollution caused by cigarette butts can be toxic to the planet as these butts do not decompose easily which can take up to several years while releasing toxins to the environment. With its global impact, the need to raise awareness about anti-littering of cigarette butts have become ever more important.
Non-profit health organization Truth Initiative has reported that about 4.5 trillion cigarette waste are created across the world every year. The Dubai Municipality’s waste management department noted that these wastes are usually found on road intersections, islands on roads, and in many commercial areas, despite the strict rule that cigarette butt littering is punishable by law, and anyone caught littering can be charged with a fine of AED 500.
Volunteers who conduct clean-ups on beaches and other public places across the country also find cigarette butts to be among the highest contributor to waste, about 40 per cent of the waste they pick up during volunteer work activities.
Natalie Banks, in a report by Khaleej Times, explained that cigarette butts littering can have negative impact on the marine environment and humans, as cigarettes have filters made from plastic, while other parts of it can take 30 years to biodegrade. She further highlighted that the filters release toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, nicotine, and ethyl phenol.
Banks advised that people should take up the responsibility to remind smokers to dispose the butts properly or risk paying a high price.