31 May 2023
Smokefree St Helena, Waste Management Services and the St Helena National Trust are hosting a joint campaign between 31 May – 8 June 2023, to raise awareness for:
- World No Tobacco Day, Wednesday 31 May: “Grow Food Not Tobacco”
- World Environment Day, Monday 5June: “Solutions to plastic pollution”
- World Oceans Day, Thursday 8 June: “Revitalization, collective action for our ocean”
The 2023 campaign will bring together components from each of the lead organisations to focus on Cigarette pollution – Health and Environmental impacts on St Helena. The aim of this campaign is to create awareness of how tobacco use harms and endangers our health, our environment and our wildlife, and to encourage the community to think about how they dispose of their use cigarette filters.
HEALTH IMPACTS OF TOBACCO
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and illness in the world today, which is why stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health.
Two-thirds of all preventable deaths and treatable deaths on the Island in the last 20 years were from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers, with smoking being a contributing risk factor to all of these diseases.
Smoking does not only affect smokers, it affects others around them. People who breathe in second hand smoke are at the same risk for illnesses as smokers, including lung cancer and heart disease. It’s not only humans affected by second-hand smoke either. Our pets suffer as well, with cats and dogs are more likely to develop cancer when regularly exposed to it.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF TOBACCO
Cigarette filters are the single most littered item both here in St Helena and worldwide. Cigarette filters are small and tend to go unnoticed, but they are littering our streets, land and sea. Cigarette filters can take 10 years to breakdown, and even then they will never fully biodegrade. They may look like cotton but they are made using a microplastic called Cellulose Acetate.
Each cigarette filter contains 15,000 microplastic fibres and can shred these at 100 micro plastics fibres per day, polluting our water, soil and ocean. A lot of the harmful chemicals that are found in cigarettes can also be found in the filters because they filter the smoke and hold onto larger particles.
A recent study found that two-thirds of cigarette filters will be discarded as litter. This could mean:
*732 of St Helena residents (2021 census) reported as a smoker
*7320 cigarettes are smoked a day (based on 10 per day)
If two-thirds of these (4880 filters a day) are discarded as litter in one year, 1,781,200 cigarette filters per year could be polluting our environment and oceans
Cigarette filters are considered to be hazardous waste, poisoning our marine environments and wildlife, damaging habitats, landscapes and our ecosystem in the process. The ideal solution is to stop smoking altogether, but smokers are also responsible for properly disposing of their cigarette butts in appropriate waste bins.
SMOKEFREE ST HELENA
Stopping smoking isn’t easy, but it is much easier with the right support. Smokefree St Helena provides an evidence-based programme of support, with sessions delivered by trained stop smoking practitioners.
The Smokefree St Helena programme is made up of two core components: behavioural support and stop smoking medications. It is through this combination that smokers have the best chance of quitting. The programme provides weekly support sessions, where clients can discuss how they are getting on, difficulties they may be having and receive advice, encouragement and medication from their practitioner.
For more information about the Smokefree St Helena service, please contact them directly by email through email@example.com or by telephone at 25863.
A number of events have been organised to raise awareness and support the various pieces of campaign work underway.
- The St Helena National Trust and SHG Waste Management Services are routinely carrying out litter pick-ups from local hotspots.
- The campaign team will be on St FM Radio station on Wednesday 31 May from 9am. A stall will be located at the Canister from 10am to 1pm to promote awareness and showcase displays demonstrating the harmful effects of tobacco. Smokefree will also be there, talking about the service and offering an opportunity to sign up to the service.
- School students are participating in a poster design competition, following their Life Studies lessons learning about the harm of tobacco. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
- A Community clean-up project is on the way. The goal will be to bring volunteers together to clean and improve public spaces. If you are interested in being a part of this change, please speak to your elected district representative.
On the various campaigns underway, Minister for Health and Social Care Martin Henry said:
“The impacts of smoking goes way beyond that of our personal health, impacting on others and our environment. Working together to support those who want to quit smoking, stop our future generations from ever starting and keeping our environment pristine and protected is vital.”
And Environmental Risk Management Terri Clingham commented:
‘The battle against cigarette litter on St Helena can only be won if smokers join the fight on the right side. There are plenty of smokers who don’t litter their cigarettes but unfortunately, there is still a minority that does. If you are a smoker who does litter, we hope that you will learn about the impact of your actions and break the habit’.
If you would like more information about the individual campaigns please visit:
#WorldNoTobaccoDay #WorldOceansDay #WorldEnvironmentDay