Spain Cigarette Butt Law places a Bounty on Butts
Tobacco companies in Spain must now provide the funds necessary to clean up the immense number of cigarette ends left behind by smokers.
The cigarette butt law is part of a package of measures designed to reduce waste and increase recycling. The package of measures is intended to reduce waste and increase recycling. As part of the plan, single-use plastic cutlery and plates, plastic cotton swabs, styrofoam cups, plastic straws, and plastic film fruit and vegetable packaging will also be banned.
The ruling complies with European Union directives that limit the use of single-use plastics and makes polluters pay to clean up their messes. One of the most common forms of litter, decomposing cigarette butts emit microplastics and toxic chemicals like arsenic and lead. According to Ocean Conservancy, 5 billion cigarette butts are discarded into the ocean yearly, more than plastic bags and bottles.
About one-quarter of Spaniards smoke, compared with an EU average of less than one-fifth. The Catalan government proposed earlier this year that under the cigarette butt law, butts could be redeemed for €0.20 each, adding €4 to the current average price of €5 for 20 cigarettes. Tobacco companies will collect and transport discarded butts for waste treatment.
Despite a large number of smokers, popular opinion favours increased restrictions on smoking. According to a survey conducted by the family medicine association, most people favour further restrictions and support banning smoking on restaurant terraces.
About 500 Spanish beaches have been declared smoke-free to protect public health and reduce the number of butts entering the ocean. In 2021, Barcelona, the most popular tourist city in Spain, declared its ten beaches smoke-free areas. A €30 fine for non-compliance was enacted, but no fines have been issued so far. It is assumed that peer pressure will enforce the laws.