I wrote a blog post back in 2016 which looked back to a 2008 litter report. In the 2008 survey of litter in Ireland, it was found that Ireland’s cities and towns were cleaner than they have been for many years prior. This was thanks to better awareness from the public, more bins and a huge effort from city and town councils. However, some pedestrians and motorists ignore bins and drop cigarette butts and food on the streets.
Cigarette Butts mentioned in Litter Reports 2008 to 2017
The 2008 National Litter Pollution Monitoring System report found that cigarette butts and cigarette-related litter formed 46% of street litter and food packaging & Sweet wrappers making up 17% of all litter.
The 2015 National Litter Pollution Monitoring System report found Cigarette related litter was at 59.8% – up over 13% on 2008, while packaging litter & sweet related litter combined was around 19% up a small amount on 2008.
In the 2017 Litter Pollution report, it was found that Cigarette related litter dropped slightly to 56.3%. Other issues such as packaging items constituted 17.6%, food related litter at 9%, sweet related litter was 7.9% and paper items 4.7%. It still shows that Cigarette Butts account for over 50% of the nations street litter.
For some reason, cigarette smokers have some sort of ignorance when it comes to litter. Cigarette Butts also contain over 4,000 toxins which can kill birds and fish – so why, when finished a cigarette do smokers flick their butt into the streets – in a “F**k it, someone else will clean that up!” attitude.
Smokers should be fined for doing this – after all, it is litter. If they are not fined then there should be an extra tax on each cigarette in a packet to pay for cigarette butt clean up.
Naming and Shaming
I think Ireland may have to Name and Shame pubs, restaurants or outlets which don’t encourage smokers to bin their butts when finished smoking. Perhaps there may also be a law which allows fining smokers who flick their butts into the street after they are finished smoking. This seems to be a habit amongst many smokers rather than finding a bin.
My Cigarette Butt 10 Step Challenge
I have observed a huge number of cigarette butts on the streets of Ireland. I have come up with a cigarette butt challenge. Basically, try walking 10 steps in any town or city in Ireland, observing the ground. See if you can walk those 10 steps without seeing a cigarette butt on the ground – it is almost impossible. If you do find a street or town let me know in the comments below.
I do have to reiterate that there are conscientious smokers out there who do place their finished cigarettes in bins provided. However, there has been an increase in this sort of litter, so it seems these smokers are in the minority.