Greek experts say that the pollution from cigarette butts is threatening the environment and, especially during the summer, the coastal areas where holidaymakers flock.
Nearly 22 billion cigarette butts, totaling 3,500 tons, constitute the annual “footprint” of Greek smokers in the environment.
Many of the cigarette butts end up in the sea, contaminating it and poisoning fish and seabirds.
The Greek Cancer Society urges smokers to take a holiday… from smoking while on the beach.
If this is not feasible, it urges the Greeks to at least never dispose of their cigarette butts in the beach.
As pointed out by the Cancer Society, aside from the health risk posed to young children, the butts are an enormous source of marine pollution from the plastic microfibers of the filter, and the diffusion of toxic ingredients contained in processed tobacco.
“If you cannot avoid smoking, make sure to at least put butts into makeshift containers or a cone of paper and then discard them in rubbish bins,” says the Greek Cancer Society.
At the same time, it urges the authorities to take appropriate measures and inform the public about the hazard posed by cigarette butts.
It may prove a very difficult task since Greece continues to be among the countries where the right of the citizen to a smoke-free environment is not respected, not even in closed public spaces, like cafes and bars.
The law on smoking restrictions has remained inapplicable for years.