Primary school pupils in Llantwit Major have been picking up cigarette butts from a local beach to mark World Environmental Health Day. (Monday 26th Sept)
World Environmental Health Day, run by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, is calling for tougher smoking regulations to maintain and enhance smokefree environments, especially around children.
Wales’s leading campaigners for tobacco control, ASH Wales Cymru, and pupils from ‘eco school’ Ysgol Y Ddraig spent today at Llantwit Major beach collecting discarded butts.
Young people are highly influenced by others smoking around them - those with a parent who smokes are 70% more likely to take up the habit. Two thirds of adult smokers took up the habit before they left their teenage years. Banning smoking in child-friendly areas ‘denormalises’ this killer habit.
ASH Wales arranged the litter pick in conjunction with their successful ‘Smokefree Spaces’ initiative. The campaign aims to see more areas, such as beaches and school gates, become smokefree areas to protect children’s health.
As of spring 2016, every council in Wales implemented a voluntary ban on smoking within children’s playgrounds.
Cigarette smoke pollutes the air but these plastic butts don’t biodegrade and contain poisonous toxins which pollute our waterways, as well as endangering wildlife who mistake them for food.
Cigarette litter is the number one most littered thing in the world with 4.5 trillion butts being discarded every year.
The used butts will be recycled to create a self-portrait by Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn. The portrait will be unveiled on Tuesday 27th September at the Pierhead, Cardiff Bay.
Julie Barratt, Director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Wales who are overseeing World Environmental Health Day in Wales said; “We know that children learn behaviour from what they see. By taking smoking out of environments where they play, such as playgrounds and beaches or where they interact with adults, such as school gates, they will not be exposed to the message that smoking is normal behaviour. The CIEH strongly endorses No Smoking Zones in such places and encourages organisations in both the public and private sector to engage with us and with ASH Wales in promoting them.”
Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales Cymru, said; “World Environmental Health Day is a fantastic opportunity for children to stand-up and say ‘no!’ to this deadly habit being in areas they like to play. It is imperative we protect our future generations from seeing smoking as a ‘normal’ thing when in fact it kills 50% of its long term users.”
“We believe Wales can lead the way in the UK on smokefree spaces. With the support and cooperation of local councils and the public we can make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of young people.”