In the past decade, more than 60 million cigarette butts were collected from the sea. According to the reports from Ocean Conservancy, cigarettes are definitely the main source of waste in the oceans. Astypalaia, which an island in Greece and which is nicknamed “the butterfly of the South Aegean,” recently set its aim to become the primary island that is going to ban smoking.
A lot of beaches in Greece are constantly filled with different kinds of trash, which include cigarette litter too. Every year, one team made of volunteers from some non-profit organizations cleans up every beach around the European country.
The major of the island spoke about a so-called “Astypalea without Cigarettes” vision, and he said that it this was the conscious choice of the visitors and residents and not a result of some policy measures. Moreover, they created the hashtag #ASTYPALEASMOKEFREE in order to promote this vision.
The local authorities, together with the Islanders, encourage the visitors to stop smoking and engage in some healthier, and better habits for their health, like cycling, and to participate in the smoke-free cultures. One weird, but still exciting fact related to this excellent project is actually that the most significant tobacco industry or company in Greece called Papastratos is the sponsor of the campaign of the island.
The island, which aims for future free of smoke, focuses on the promotion of a healthy and wellbeing quality life, not only for the islanders but also for the tourists who visit this beautiful island each year and raise awareness about what kind of pollution the cigarette butts cause on the beaches.
It is also true that they set the bar quite high since the country is now ranked among the top countries in Europe which have the highest rate of consumption of tobacco. Moreover, it is even considered Europe’s black sheep, as it does not follow the restrictive laws related to smoking, particularly in private and public spaces.
During one interview, Astypalaia’s major was asked if smokers are unwelcome in his country, with this new law. He said:
“No, of course not! Quite the contrary. We welcome smokers, and we hope that if they stay, at least for a little while, on a smoke-free island, maybe they’ll decide to quit smoking and join a healthier way of living.”
In just two hours, you can fill two 1.5 liter bottles with cigarette butts at the beaches in Greece. One single cigarette butt can contaminate 200 liters of water.