We all know the negative impact of cigarettes on our own health, but what about their polluting effects on the environment? According to the Environment Minister, they are a "significant" threat and need to be taken as seriously as single-use plastics.
Deputy John Young, picked up on the “emerging” dangers of cigarette butts on the environment in a hearing where he was questioned on environmental policy regarding the reduction of plastics in Jersey.
The Scrutiny Hearing, where a panel of States Members question a Minister on policy-making surrounding a particular issue, grilled Deputy Young on what is being done in Jersey to reduce consumption of single-use plastics.
Amid suggestions of fixed penalties for littering and introducing a ‘plastic-free Parliament’ programme, Deputy Young announced that tackling the issue of irresponsibly discarded cigarette butts was now also a priority for his department.
Pictured: Deputy John Young put cigarette butts on the agenda at yesterday's quarterly Scrutiny Hearing.
“Cigarette butts that are just thrown on the ground get washed into surface water drains. Those butts contain micro plastics,” he commented, adding that the "significant issue" was an "example of where we need to do more.”
His comments follow international research that concluded that cigarette butts are even more polluting than plastic straws due to their carcinogenic and micro-plastic content.
Local environmental campaigner Sheena Brockie, who has raised concerns about cigarette butts in the past, explained: “Cigarette butts contain many of the same carcinogens, nicotine and toxins as the cigarette itself, as well as plastics, all of which are leeching into our soils and marine environment. We are more aware of it this year than ever before because the exceptionally dry summer has meant our streets aren’t being cleaned by the rain, washing the problem out of sight."
“But the drains go straight to the ocean, where these toxins and plastics are causing problems - with just one butt in a few gallons of water having an effect on sea water fish. I genuinely believe that smokers don’t consider cigarette butts as litter, nor do they understand the detrimental effect on our environment."
Throughout the hearing, Deputy Young spoke highly of the outreach work carried out by Eco Active in changing consumer mentality towards single-use plastics, but he and his accompanying officials made it clear that due to Jersey being principally a consumer of plastics rather than a manufacturer, there was a limit to the amount of change they could effect.
Ahead of this afternoon’s Common Strategic Policy announcement, which will see the Council of Ministers lay out their plans for the coming years, it is unclear whether the Environment Department will be allocated the resources needed to carry out all of their aspirations.
Deputy Young described his department as being “run on a shoestring”, having suffered a loss of manpower as well as a 30% budget cut over the years. However, he indicated that things were now looking more positive.
“I believe that the process the Council of Ministers has been following has the potential to be able to match the resources with the priorities [of the Environment Department], which has never happened before.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.