With World No Tobacco Day on May 31, Central Coast residents are being warned of the damage smoking and vaping does, not just to health but to the environment.
The day’s theme this year is Tobacco: Threat to our environment.
Tobacco is the most littered item on Earth, with four and a half trillion cigarette butts polluting the planet each year.
In addition, 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide is emitted annually by tobacco production, raising global temperatures.
Central Coast Local Health District says the rise in use of plastic, single-use vapes is adding to the problem locally.
“The impact tobacco products have on our environment is massive,” Health Promotion Officer, Jessica Maloney, said.
“When you add into the mix that we’re seeing a sharp increase in the number of people – particularly young people – on the Central Coast using e-cigarettes, it’s creating a dual threat for both our health and the environment.
“Many e-cigarettes produce or emit vapour containing chemicals and toxins that can cause serious lung damage and even cancer.
“These chemicals also pollute the environment, and the added waste from e-cigarette batteries, devices and cartridges is littering the parks and beaches we love on the Coast.”
Local not-for-profit organisation Take 3 for the Sea said discarded vapes are a growing concern.
“We’ve always picked up a lot of cigarette butts at our beach clean-ups,” Take 3 CEO, Jacquie Riddell, said. “But now we’re coming across discarded e-cigarettes as well.
“This is concerning because parts of them are made of plastic, which breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces in the ocean. These can be mistaken for food by animals, causing injury, suffocation and even death.
“We ask everyone to dispose of their e-cigarettes responsibly as they should their cigarette butts, and remember to take three pieces of rubbish away with you every time you go to the beach, waterway, or anywhere.”
Last year, Central Coast Local Health District launched Say No to Vaping, a campaign to raise awareness of the health risks of e-cigarettes. For more information, visit www.healthpromotion.com.au/SayNoToVaping.
For support to quit smoking, call Quitline on 13 QUIT (13 7848) or visit www.icanquit.com.au.
Media release, May 20
Central Coast Local Health District