“… Our best course of action may be maintaining a low profile while working to exempt cigarettes from coverage of pending litter control legislation … Recommendation … the concept of courtesy should be limited to the smoking of — rather than the disposal of — tobacco products.”
–Tobacco Institute Memo, 1979
Industry cooperation is absolutely essential to solving the cigarette litter problem. Unfortunately, this cooperation has been sorely lacking to date. We think that there are three basic steps that every cigarette company should take immediately. These steps are affordable and reasonable and will have significant impact on the problem:
- Add information about cigarette litter to their web sites that points out the lack of true biodegradability of cigarette filters and the general impact of cigarette litter on the environment. Such a page would take mere minutes to create, and we have even designed a sample that anyone is free to copy!
- Put anti-litter messages on their packaging. This is a standard practice for soda, snack, and fast food companies. Why not the most frequently littered product on earth? Adding this message to the packaging isn’t expensive (how often do kids cereal boxes change to offer a new toy?) An example could be “Cigarettes do not readily biodegrade – Please dispose properly” This could be in small but legible print and would easily fit on a standard cigarette pack. This would end the biodegradability myth once and for all!
- Use a small sliver of their advertising budgets (say .1% of the 8.2 billion dollars – about 8.2 million dollars) to create and run TV ads and radio ads encouraging their customers not to litter. They could also add small messages to existing magazine ads.
Please contact these companies to encourage their participation!
Ellen Merlo, Philip Morris USA, 917-663-5000
Steve Kottak, Brown and Williamson Tobacco, 502-568-7193 or
Mark Smith, Brown and Williamson Tobacco, 502-568-7603
Steve Strawsburg, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, 336-741-5315