Draft Law Seeks Cigarette Vendors to Carry Out Environmental Waste Management

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    An initiative of liberationist deputies proposes that cigarette packs include messages about environmental damage caused by cigarette butts. A cigarette butt contaminates 8 liters of sea water, and up to 50 liters of fresh water, according to data from the Ecomar Foundation.

    Although there are laws and agreements in Costa Rica that promote smoke-free spaces, there is no specific measure that refers to the waste that is generated after a tobacco product is consumed. This week Bill 23,438, which aims to change that reality, was presented to the public. It is promoted by the deputies of the liberationist faction, Kattia Rivera and Alejandra Larios, and their bench partner Óscar Izquierdo.

    The congressmen propose, to deal with the contamination caused by cigarette butts, declaring this type of waste as “special management”, and applying extended product liability to those who import or manufacture cigarettes in Costa Rica. They indicate in their initiative that tobacco merchants develop an environmental management plan for special handling waste, in which they establish a program that guarantees the temporary deposit, recovery, valuation and final disposal of the tailings.

    Likewise, the greenish-white party members provide in the text of the bill that smoking on beaches, rivers, streams and wetlands that are within protected wildlife areas would be prohibited. Also, environmental messages should be placed on the packs that warn the consumer about the risks and environmental damage caused by cigarette butts.

    The initiative is supported by environmental foundations

    The initiative is supported by the MarViva Foundation and the OneSea Foundation, since cigarette butts are one of the largest types of waste found in the streets and reach rivers and seas through the sewage system. “This has important consequences for marine ecosystems and, therefore, for the country’s economy”, said Alberto Quesada, MarViva’s regional coordinator for Marine Pollution.

    For his part, Eduardo Leitón, director of OneSea, indicated that the project takes into account environmental, social and economic aspects. “We have managed to declare various beaches as areas free of cigarette butts and tobacco smoke, including Jacó, with the help of local governments and civil organizations. We feel motivated to promote this bill, hand in hand with all sectors”, he concluded.

    The congressmen stressed that the approval of their proposal is of utmost importance to conserve ecosystems. They consider that as a society, “we must migrate to more environmentally friendly practices and take charge of what we produce and use”.

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