ATHENS – There are too many butts on Greek beaches. Not those in bikinis or Speedos, but the cigarettes they leave behind after smoking, the Greek Cancer Society said, pleading for the residue to be properly disposed of.
The group said 22 billion cigarette butts are thrown on streets and beaches everywhere in an orgy of tobacco litter as Greece has largely given up trying to enforce No Smoking laws. Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis proved that point when, in violation of the unenforced law, he lit up during a No Smoking Day event and no one told him to put it out.
The society said the butts are a risk to public health and the environment, which hasn’t led to any mass movement to follow the law or put them where they won’t hurt anyone.
“Dear smokers, if you cannot avoid smoking, at least make sure that you put your butts into some kind of makeshift ashtray… and then dispose of them in a garbage bin,” the society asked nicely. According to estimates by conservation groups, cigarette ends account for nearly 40 percent of the garbage removed from beaches.
The society also called on the government and local authorities to launch awareness campaigns so that swimmers take greater care of the country’s beaches but it wasn’t explained how, if laws with tough penalties aren’t working, why asking for smokers to comply would work.