Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance

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Tobacco's Toxic Plastics In Our Ocean

Every year, our environment is inundated with over 4 trillion plastic cigarette filters, many of which end up in our precious oceans. These filters, also known as butts, contain harmful microplastics that take over a decade to decompose. During this period, they release toxic chemicals and metals like arsenic, lead, and ethyl phenol, posing a grave threat to both terrestrial and aquatic life.

Cigarette Filters Harm Both Health and Environment and Must be Banned

Cigarette filters are a stark example of the tobacco industry’s flawed product design. Despite being perceived as a safety feature that enhances the appeal of cigarettes, these filters have been linked to a more aggressive form of cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have called for a ban on cigarette filters and for holding the tobacco industry responsible for its environmental damage.

STPA: Plastics Policies Must Align with Tobacco Control Policies

While many countries have introduced policies to regulate plastics, very few have specifically addressed the issue of cigarette butts. At the same time, the world’s governments are uniting to save our oceans from the harmful impact of plastics through the UN Plastics Treaty Negotiations. In recognition of an urgent need, the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) and Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) brought together advocates from around the world to establish the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance (STPA). 

This alliance aims to promote the alignment between the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the plastics treaty, ban filters, and to make the tobacco industry pay.

Significant Milestones

The successful conclusion of the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) of the UN Plastics Treaty, which took place in Ottawa, Canada, on April 29, 2024, marks a significant step forward in developing an international legally binding instrument to address plastic pollution, particularly in marine environments.

Following STPA’s continued advocacy efforts on banning cigarette filters, including a powerful statement delivered by Laura Salgado, Head of Campaign & Partnerships at GGTC, during a plenary, the WHO FCTC was recognized in the draft Preamble. Cigarette filters and other tobacco-related products were included in the list of avoidable and problematic plastics. Furthermore, in a joint statement with the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the World Health Organization called for a ban on cigarette filters and other single-use tobacco plastic products.

Latest Resources for INC4

  • Policy Brief                                                                                                                             Why the Zero Draft of the UN Plastics Treaty Should Deal with Tobacco’s Toxic Plastics (updated version). Access here.Supplementary provisional agenda (COP10 to the WHO FCTC)
  • Talking Points
    Key positions of STPA. Access here.
  • Side-by-side                                                                                                        Revised draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. Access here.
  • Letters                                                                                                                                      Letter to the Ministry Of Health and Ministry Of Environment.
  • List of Entities
    List of Observers Found to Have Links with Tobacco Companies at INC-4. Access here.
  • Blog Article
    Tobacco Industry Must Be Removed from Plastics Treaty Negotiations. Access here.
  • Blog Article
    Advancing Environmental Protection at COP10: Implications for Tobacco’s Toxic Plastics and Extended Producer Responsibility. Access here.                                                                                                                                   

Featured Resources

Highlighted Resources

Additional Readings

  • The tobacco industry and the environment (Brief)
  • Hazardous cigarette waste (Article)
  • Filter fraud (Article)
  • Tobacco and its environmental impact (Report)
  • UN Plastics Treaty Negotiations- Interventions and Outcomes (Statement)
  • Tobacco industry interference in plastics policy (E-update)

Key Developments

  • During the the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC 2) for the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) found explicit mention during the official discussions. This marks the first time the WHO FCTC has been officially referenced during these discussions, emphasizing the imperative to explore synergies among existing multilateral environmental agreements and public health treaties.

  • The recently concluded Tenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) has adopted a landmark decision aimed at fortifying Article 18, a critical provision dedicated to environmental protection. This decision aligns with ongoing efforts to negotiate the United Nations (UN) Plastics Treaty, highlighting the interconnectedness of environmental and public health concerns.

Sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of UN Global Plastics Treaty

Fourth Session (INC-4)

23-29 Apr, 2024

Daily key takeaways: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6

Advancing against plastic pollution: WHO FCTC recognition and support for cigarette filter ban

The WHO FCTC was recognized in the draft Preamble during a plenary at the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty, following months of advocacy and technical assistance by GGTC, a convenor of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance (STPA), including a powerful statement delivered by Laura Salgado, GGTC Head of Campaign and Partnerships, on behalf of the STPA members.  Cigarette filters and other tobacco-related products were included in the list of avoidable and problematic plastics. Furthermore, in a joint statement with the Secretariat of the FCTC, WHO called for a ban on cigarette filters and other single-use tobacco plastic products.

Third Session (INC-3)

13-19 Nov, 2023

Daily key takeaways: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6 & 7

Aligning with the alliance’s advocacy on the inclusion of tobacco’s toxic plastics in the upcoming plastics treaty, and urging a ban on cigarette filters, one significant highlight of INC-3, concluded on November 19, 2023, was the mention of cigarette filters in the report (refer to page 3) submitted by Contact Group 1. 

Second Session (INC-2)

29 May-02 Jun, 2023

Daily key takeaways: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5

Ahead of INC-2, the STPA convened a round table discussionThe Road to a Ban on Cigarette Filters, that brought together experts and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to assess the potential benefits and challenges of a cigarette filter ban. This RTD served as a platform for collaboration and advocacy efforts to generate recommendations for policymakers and advocates on promoting a ban on cigarette filters. 

 

Additionally, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and STPA organized a webinar (Part A and B) with the renowned public health community to build the capacity to take action supporting advocacy at the country level, as well as during INC sessions and the Tenth session of the Conference of Parties to the WHO FCTC (COP10). The webinar aimed to garner support from key community stakeholders concerning the important Plastics Treaty.

First Session (INC-1)

28 Nov-02 Dec, 2022

Interventions delivered by members of the STPA highlight the importance of banning cigarette filters and excluding the tobacco industry and other private actors who have an inherent conflict of interest from participating in the discussions. These include: Intervention statement of ASH,  A co-convenor of the STPA, at INC-1 of the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty,  Second intervention statement by ASH at INC-1 of the UN Plastics Pollution Treaty,  Joint statement from ASH, COARE and CIEL,  Statement by Corporate Accountability, Statement by Vital Strategies

The alliance also contributed to POP Lite Bulletin of the Break Free From Plastics Movement (1, 2 , 3), which provided daily key takeaways during the first and second session of the negotiations.

STPA Webinars

  • Round table discussion: The road to a ban on cigarette filters
  • Why the public health community must engage in the UN plastics pollution treaty process (Part A)
  • Why the public health community must engage in the UN plastics pollution treaty process (Part B)

Blog Articles

  • COP10: Action needed to prevent tobacco industry interference in environmental solutions. Read here
  • The world’s most littered, disposable product is not banned. Read here
  • WHO Supports an immediate ban on cigarette filters. Read here
  • Plastic cigarette filters: Non-biodegradable trash we should live without. Read here
  • Tobacco companies need to pay: How the global plastics pollution treaty can hold the tobacco industry accountable. Read here
  • Tobacco industry’s trending ‘Harm Reduction’ concept. Read here
  • The huge costs of big tobacco’s environmental harms. Read here
  • The year countries made Big Tobacco Pay. Read here
  • Align plastics treaty with WHO FCTC. Read here

Videos

Member Organizations

Earth Day Network

Malaysian Women’s Action for Tobacco Control and Health (My WATCH)

Plastic Pollution Coalition

NCD Child

Fundación OneSea

Menzies School of Health Research

ACITASVE (Asociación Civil Interdisciplinaria Tabaco o Salud Venezuela)

PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress)

HealthJustice Philippines

Aliance Contre Le Tabac 

ACT Promoção de Saúde

Nofumadores.org

ACT-Alliance contre le Tabac.

Corporate Accountability

Action Council against Tobacco in India (ACT-India)

NTAKK

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH-US)

Pratyasha Anti-drug’s club

Japan Society for Tobacco Control

CIET (Tob Epidemic Research Center of Uruguay)

African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA)

International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation

Norwegian Cancer Society

RIPO – Red Internacional Promotores de ODS

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

Israel Medical Association for Smoking Cessation and Prevention

Alianza Antitabaco Ecuador

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA)

Alianza ENT

The Union (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease)

Lentera Anak

RENATA (Red Nacional Antitabaco)

ASH Scotland

Den of Hope Youth Group

Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control (ACTC)

Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) 

Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians

Educar Consumidores

BlueLink Civic Action Network

VCU Health

Bren School, UC Santa Barbara

Federal Ministry of Health

CAT – Centro de Apoio ao Tabagista (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

FIC Argentina

Center of Studies on Tobacco or Health of the National School of Public Health Sergio Arouca at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation

TobaccoTactics team at the University of Bath

Orendain Associates

Fiji Cancer Society

Clalit health services

Danish Cancer Society

CNPT (Comité Nacional para la Prevención del Tabaquismo)

Swiss Association for Tobacco Control

COLAT (Comisión Nacional Permanente de Lucha Antitabáquica)

Fundación Bolivia Saludable – Alianza por la Salud

Fundacion Annas

Unfairtobacco

Consumer Information Network

stop2drop

Consumers Association of Penang

PROESA-U.Icesi

Salud Justa Mexico

Smokefree partnership

Friends of the Earth Canada

PROI

GoClean Nederland B.V.

Recreation Therapy New Zealand

Green Crescent Turkey

Refleacciona con Responsabilidad A.C.

Belgian Foundation Against Cancer

Vision for Alternative Development

Health Funds for a Smokefree Netherlands

Vital Strategies

Belgian Alliance for a Smoke Free Society

FIC Bolivia – Alianza por la Salud

Aerztlicher Arbeitskreis Rauchen und Gesundheit e.V.

Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC)

Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS)

Smoke Free IsraelSmoke Free Loife Coalition

Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA)

Tobacco Free Association of Zambia

Institute of Public Health of the Republic of North Macedonia

Société Francophone de Tabacologie

Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), Inc.

Society For Public Health Professionals of Nigeria

Comité national contre le tabagisme (CNCT)

Tobacco Control Alliance in Georgia

International Youth Health Organization

TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland

Pan African Vision for the Environment (PAVE)

Súmate

ASH Finland

Tobacco Free Portfolios

Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC)

European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP)

KADC

Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health

Kyiv City Public Health Center

San Diego State University Center for Tobacco and The Environment 

Mps-Gabon

STPA is convened by:

Organizations who joined the Alliance

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