New study reveals that 25 percent of adult smokers think throwing cigarette butts on the ground is “normal” and highlights the need for fundamental development of public education and awareness
Dubai, UAE; 10 December 2020: Philip Morris International has launched “Our World Is Not an Ashtray” in support of its litter reduction target set out in its Integrated Report 2019 to achieve a 50 percent reduction of the plastic litter from its products by 2025 (versus a 2021 baseline). The new global initiative, launched on WorldNoAshtray.com, aims to raise awareness and drive change in behavior and attitudes around cigarette butt littering and, ultimately, make cigarette butt littering a thing of the past.
“We recognize that our company has an important role to play in supporting action on a cigarette butt and plastic littering. In fact, this year, we announced in our Integrated Report 2019 our global aim to achieve a 50 percent reduction of the plastic litter from our products by 2025, compared to a 2021 baseline,” said Jennifer Motles, Chief Sustainability Officer at PMI. “Accomplishing our goal will require fundamental development of public education and awareness. Most essentially, smokers need to understand that it is unacceptable to dispose of cigarette butts improperly. By working with experts to better understand how to encourage smokers to adopt more responsible disposal habits, launching education programs, and cooperating with governments and local authorities to ensure there is an adequate waste-disposal infrastructure, we believe we can significantly reduce the plastic litter associated with our products.”
In a new international study commissioned by PMI and conducted by Kantar, a global research data and insights company, 25 percent of adult smokers reported that they throw cigarette butts on the ground because they think “it is a normal way to dispose of a cigarette.” The survey also found 59 percent were more concerned about protecting the natural environment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, about two-thirds (65 percent) feel a greater sense of responsibility for the impact their behavior and actions have on the natural environment.
Crucially, when asked what course of action tobacco companies should take to reduce cigarette butt littering, 52 percent chose “awareness building and educational programs”. Alongside tobacco companies increasing their efforts to prevent littering, smokers also revealed their desire to take action, with three out of four saying they have a key role to play.
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a bioplastic made from wood cellulose. The survey revealed that 75 percent of respondents thought that cigarette filters are made of cotton or paper, and only 13 percent knew correctly that filters are made of plastic.
“These findings highlight the need for awareness campaigns such as “Our World Is Not an Ashtray” to help change smokers’ behavior and I’m glad we are launching this campaign in the UAE as well”, said Tarkan Demirbas, Area Vice President Middle East.
To accelerate change, PMI has teamed up with third-party organizations across the world to optimize the impact that it can have on the global issue of plastic littering. PMI is working with three organizations—Litterati, Cortexia, and CARTO —to implement a data-driven approach and assess the prevalence of cigarette-butt litter across the globe, identify litter hot spots, and monitor the impact of anti-littering activities.