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Environmental accountability for tobacco product waste
  1. Thomas E Novotny
  1. School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Thomas E Novotny, School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA; tnovotny{at}sdsu.edu

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In this issue of Tobacco Control, Hoek et al report on a survey of a representative sample of New Zealand smokers and non-smokers on their knowledge, attitudes and suggestions for potential interventions regarding the problem of tobacco product waste (TPW), otherwise known as cigarette butts.1 TPW is increasingly recognised by the public as the most common waste item picked up on beach and urban cleanups globally,2 and both smokers and non-smokers in Hoek’s study recognised the potential environmental toxicity of TPW. Both also held smokers primarily responsible for preventing TPW, but after receiving additional information on the non-biodegradability of filters, more responsibility was assigned by both to the tobacco industry. However, the downstream perspective on TPW environmental accountability is still widely shared by most environmental groups, governments and the general public. Some environmental organisations are even supported by the tobacco industry as part of its ‘greenwashing’ efforts,3 and these well-meaning groups spend considerable time on clean-ups and in placing butt receptacles on beaches and street corners for TPW collection. Nonetheless, these efforts make little difference in mitigating the impact of trillions of cigarette butts dumped …

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