Cigarette butts can be harmful to the environment, as they are the most common form of litter and take up to 10 years to decompose, they can also be harmful to wildlife if ingested. Spanish government came up with a law that will force tobacco companies to pay for cleaning-up the cigarette butts.
The new law came into force on Friday and also stipulates that cigarette manufacturers have to educate the public on proper disposal. According to statistics Spain has the largest number of smokers in Europe, with 22% of Spaniards smoking compared with an EU average of 18.4%. A study made by the Catalan government put the clean-up’s cost at between €12-€21 per citizen per year, leading to a total of up to €1bn.
“We want to put a stop to the present situation where around 70% of cigarette butts end up either on the ground or in the sea,” Isaac Peraire, the head of the Catalan Waste Agency, told El Periódico earlier this year.
Aiming to limit marine pollution, more than 500 Spanish beaches have already been declared smoke-free. Last year smoking was banned on all public beaches in Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain., with offenders fined €30.
Similar legislation has also been adopted this week in Ireland as well, requiring tobacco companies to contribute to the cost of cleaning-up the waste. In 2021, Ireland reportedly spent €85m to clean the streets, almost half of the litter being cigarette-related.