BANGKOK, Thailand, Jun 09 (IPS) – The second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on plastic air pollution (INC-2), held in Paris, France, from Could 29 to June 02, 2023, concluded with optimism and the prospect of ending plastics air pollution. Over 700 delegates from 169 Member States agreed to arrange a zero draft of agreement forward of the third session in November this yr.
Among the many extra essential and fascinating debates, well being advocates attending the negotiations reported that it was important to debate “the way to categorize the 1000’s of kinds of plastics, chemical precursors and merchandise in a method that enables for a coherent strategy to ending plastic air pollution.
Some favoured specializing in the chemical precursors, eliminating essentially the most poisonous and polluting ones,” whereas others acknowledged that not each sort of plastic might be recycled or reinvented, and sure plastics like cigarette filters have to disappear for good.
Leonce Sessou, talking on behalf of Motion on Smoking and Well being (ASH), Company Accountability (CA), African Tobacco Management Alliance (ATCA), and different members of the Cease Tobacco Air pollution Alliance (STPA), urged Member States to align the long run legally binding instrument on plastics with the general public well being goal of ending the tobacco epidemic, to which most have already dedicated by way of the WHO Framework Conference on Tobacco Management (FCTC).
Tobacco management teams, for instance, called for the elimination of cigarette filters. They drew consideration to the truth that cigarette butts are among the most prevalent types of plastic air pollution on the planet and hurt land and marine ecosystems.
They reminded delegates to align with human rights and well being treaties, notably the WHO FCTC, and make the tobacco business pay for its air pollution and legacy waste. The WHO FCTC well being treaty seeks to scale back the availability and demand for tobacco and defend well being insurance policies by maintaining the tobacco business out of coverage conferences.
In accordance with a WHO report which referred to as for a ban on cigarette filters, about 4.5 trillion discarded filters (butts) from the just about six trillion cigarettes consumed globally discover their method into the setting yearly.
They’re the highest waste merchandise collected from coastlines and concrete settings. Cigarette filters are sufficiently small to be ingested by marine animals, and when these plastic filters break down, they launch 1000’s of microplastic particles.
Microplastics have been detected in industrial seafood, different meals objects, consuming water, and human tissue; this contamination is a menace to meals security and safety.
Analysis reveals cigarette butts are a supply of microplastic contamination that creates chemical air pollution (as a result of poisonous chemical substances present in tobacco merchandise) that leach into the setting. Cigarette butt leachates are discovered to hurt varied types of aquatic organisms, together with key meals sources for fish and shellfish.
Experts agree that banning cigarette filters is the most effective answer to this plastic and poisonous waste downside. Clear-ups, anti-littering laws, and redesigning filters for recyclability or biodegradability haven’t labored and will not be viable options.
Authorities committees from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark have not too long ago referred to as for a ban on filters and really useful the identical for the remainder of the European Union Member States.
For not less than 5 many years, the tobacco business has recognized that cigarette filters present no well being advantages; as an alternative, they make cigarettes burn hotter, ship extra nicotine, and enhance dependancy.
But they’ve misled people who smoke into considering filters make cigarettes “safer.” As consciousness round smoking elevated, the tobacco business made commercials for filtered cigarettes extra interesting to pacify people who smoke’ issues.
Advocates taking part within the INC-2 reported a whole lot of misunderstandings associated to cigarette filters which are but to be addressed. In its blog on day 5 of the negotiations, ASH said, “Many individuals, not simply individuals who smoke, assume filters make cigarettes safer quite than extra harmful.”
Quite a few international locations have already got a nationwide coverage banning single-use plastics comparable to plastic baggage, straws, and cotton buds however have inadvertently not included cigarette filters. Nevertheless, advocates chatting with authorities delegates discovered widespread help for a ban on cigarette filters.
As the potential for a cigarette filter ban gathers momentum, the tobacco business’s public relations (PR) equipment is already in movement implementing seashore cleans-ups and cigarette butt assortment actions by way of its company social accountability (CSR) programs throughout the globe.
Earlier than the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on plastic air pollution (INC-3) resumes in Nairobi in November, governments should keep in mind that the tobacco business isn’t a stakeholder however a polluter that have to be held accountable for the myriad harms it has induced in addition to continues to trigger to human well being and the setting.
Over 100 non-governmental well being organizations of the STPA, together with different environmental teams comparable to World Alliance for Incinerator Options, Ecowaste Coalition, Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), Ban Toxics (Philippines), Our Sea of East Asia Community (OSEAN), Improvement Indian Ocean Community, Earthday.org (Earth Day Community), Inexperienced Africa Youth Group, Vietnam Zero Waste Alliance, and Boomerang Alliance have referred to as for the elimination of cigarette filters.
Mary Assunta is Senior Coverage Advisor, Southeast Asia Tobacco Management Alliance (SEATCA)
IPS UN Bureau
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