Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance
Cigarette butts are the most pervasive toxic single-use plastic litter – and the tobacco industry knows this.
Cigarette filters are part of a poor product design. While smokers perceive cigarette filters to be a safety feature enhancing the attractiveness of the cigarette, the filters have been linked to a more aggressive form of cancer. Additionally, cigarette butts or used filters contain microplastics that take over a decade to decompose, leaching out chemicals and metals such as arsenic, lead and ethyl phenol that are toxic to terrestrial and aquatic life. Cigarette butts and the plastics in tobacco packaging are estimated to cost governments USD 1 billion a year in waste management costs and USD 20 billion a year in loss of marine ecosystem services. While many national policies have been adopted on regulating plastics, only a few address cigarette butts/tobacco products. World Health Organisation and many NGOs have called for a ban on cigarette filters and for making the tobacco industry accountable for its environmental harms.
UN Plastics Treaty Negotiations
Following the United Nations Environment Assembly's mandate, an intergovernmental negotiating body comprising more than 2,300 delegates from 160 countries gathered in Uruguay from 28th November to 2nd December 2022 for the First Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1), to negotiate an internationally legally binding instrument by 2024 to end plastic pollution, including marine environment pollution. The negotiations focused on states' views on the scope, objective, and structure of the treaty, with many focusing on technical capacity, financial assistance, and core obligations vis-a-vis voluntary approaches. The negotiations continued at the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2), which took place at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris, France from 29 May to 2 June 2023.
STPA Presence at the UN Plastics Treaty Negotiations
First Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1)
The STPA convened by Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) and the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, a partner in STOP, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, actively participated at the INC-1.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in coordination with the WHO FCTC Secretariat, was among other international organisations, including the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN's Global Compact, STPA, and Tobacco Control groups that provided statements and interventions in support of the treaty, which emphasized the importance of health and human rights and the need to align the et treaty with the WHO FCTC; considering that cigarettes butts are the most littered plastic items in the world.
Interventions delivered by members of the STPA highlight the importance of banning cigarette filters and excluding tobacco industry and other private actors that have an inherent conflict of interest from participating in the discussions.
1. Intervention statement of ASH, a co-convenor of the STPA, at INC-1 of the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty
2. Second intervention statement by ASH at INC-1 of the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty
3. Joint statement from ASH, COARE and CIEL
4. Statement by Corporate Accountability
5. Statement by Vital Strategies
The alliance also contributed the following articles to the POPLite Bulletin of the Break Free From Plastic Movement, which provided daily key takeaways during the negotiations:
Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2)
Some members of the alliance also attended the second Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) of the United Nations treaty to end plastic pollution in Paris, France from May 29 – June 2, 2023, and provided updates and progress on the negotiations: