FEATURE KEEP WALES TIDY! Wales celebrates National No Smoking Day with a portrait of Sir David Attenborough made with cigarette butts, as they are found to be the most common form of litter in the country. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales Cymru commissioned Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn to create a portrait of environmental campaigner Sir David Attenborough made entirely from cigarette butts collected on Welsh beaches to mark National No Smoking Day 2019. Amidst a worldwide war on plastics, the aim of this piece of art was to highlight the impact of cigarette butts on the environment, and the fact that they pollute our oceans and waterways with plastic and toxins, according to ASH Wales Cymru. Together with Keep Wales Tidy, the tobacco control campaign group unveiled the portrait on Barry Island Beach on March 13. Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world. Across the UK alone, an estimated 122 tonnes of smoking related litter items are dropped every day. Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales Cymru, said: “This year we want to use No Smoking Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the environmental impact of cigarette butts and there is a very serious message behind Nathan Wyburn’s portrait. Through the BBC series Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough has shown the devasting impact plastic is having on our oceans. Plastic filled cigarette butts are a part of that problem and play a big part in turning the seas into what Sir David Attenborough has described as a ‘toxic soup’. Protecting the environment is a major concern especially amongst young people. Many smokers do not know the damage cigarettes do to the planet and we hope that by making people more aware of the impact, it might give them an extra incentive to kick this highly addictive habit.” It’s unclear if UK television’s favourite environmental campaigner Sir David Attenborough has seen his latest portrait, but we reckon he’d be a fan of this mission. In 2018 cigarette butts were found on over 80 percent of streets in Wales, making it the most common form of litter in the country. ASH Wales Cymru says, “Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable.” A survey carried out by Keep Britain Tidy last year found that less than half of smokers know that cigarettes contain plastic. Meanwhile one in ten smokers do not consider cigarette butts to be litter and 10 percent think cigarettes are biodegradable. 74 | VM22 They contain plastic and can stay in the environment for up to 15 years. Cigarette filters contain harmful chemical ingredients including arsenic, lead and nicotine that pollute our waterways and the toxins in tobacco residue endanger animals that ingest them. Just one cigarette butt left to soak in water for 96 hours will release enough toxins to kill half of the salt or fresh water fish that are exposed to it.