More than 100 billion cigarette butts are discarded in India every year which contain harmful and cancer-causing chemicals. In this backdrop, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), on November 2, had directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Central Pollution Control Board to file their response on the harm caused by cigarette/bidi butts and chewing tobacco to the environment.
NGO Doctors for You, which works for cancer care, had moved NGT praying that the Centre be directed to declare cigarette and bidi butts as “toxic waste”. Dr Ravikant Singh, convenor of Doctors for You, said they had submitted the findings of Kerala State Forest Department, which revealed that around 60 hectares of forest was lost between February 2009 and March 2010 due to fires started by carelessly thrown cigarette butts. In Hyderabad, from January 2010 to March 2013, 1,333 cases of cigarette-caused fires were reported. Research has shown that about 25-50 percent of litter accumulated from the streets comprises tobacco residues.
Consumption of tobacco in any form in all public places should be prohibited and people should be allowed to smoke, chew and spit only in designated areas where norms for disposal of cigarette/ bidi butts and toxic saliva should be made, the Doctors for You petition urged. Such designated areas should be licensed and monitored by the Ministry for Environment and Ministry of health, the petition further said.