The Tobacco Free Association of Zambia (TFAZ), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies, has called for a ban on cigarette filters.
The organization claims that the proliferation of cigarette butts, enabled by these filters, has become a significant source of plastic pollution and poses a grave threat to both the environment and human health.
In a press statement released by TFAZ Executive Director Ms. Brenda Chitindi, the association emphasized the alarming consequences of cigarette filters.
“Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts persist for 10 or more years, resulting in at least 300,000 tonnes of microplastics and toxins. This pollution is a direct consequence of the so-called filter, which serves only to encourage and facilitate smoking,” stated Chitindi.
Furthermore, TFAZ highlighted the devastating toll of smoking-related deaths in Zambia.
“Smoking is responsible for 8,000 deaths each year in Zambia alone,” the press statement read.
TFAZ is a member of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance (STPA) and stressed the need for the Zambian government to align future legislation on plastics with the objective of curbing the tobacco epidemic, as most countries have already committed to through the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Ms. Chitindi further advocated for immediate action to ban certain single-use plastic products that pose hazards to both the environment and public health.
“For some hazardous and unnecessary single-use plastic products, an immediate ban and appropriate trade measures should be implemented,” she stated.
TFAZ called upon all stakeholders to join forces with environmental and public health scientists to combat tobacco-induced diseases and the escalating problem of environmental plastic pollution.
The association stressed the urgent need to protect the environment and highlighted the detrimental effects of pollution on both smokers and the general population.
Agrey Wapamesa, a student at the University of Zambia (UNZA), expressed his support for the call to preserve a healthy environment.
He emphasized that the effects of environmental pollution are not limited to smokers but have far-reaching consequences for everyone.
“Pollution causes climate change, which not only harms the environment but also slows down economic development,” Wapamesa explained.
While advocating for environmental preservation, Wapamesa noted that a complete ban on tobacco may not be necessary.
Instead, he suggested finding better ways to process tobacco to mitigate harm, even for non-smokers.
“Let them not ban tobacco entirely because people smoke for different reasons. Some individuals smoke as a recommendation from medical professionals,” he remarked.
Wapamesa commended TFAZ for shedding light on the hazards posed by tobacco filters to the environment and human life.
He applauded the organization’s efforts in raising awareness about the issue and encouraged fellow Zambians to actively participate in safeguarding the environment.
The TFAZ’s appeal, supported by the WHO and other public health agencies, serves as a clear call to action to protect both the environment and human well-being.