According to PMSA, cigarette butt litter is a major problem on beaches and a source of ocean pollution. This is because some smokers discard cigarette butts in the sand. This litter is often carried into the ocean with the tide, where it can be mistaken for food by birds and marine animals, with dire consequences.

"With this initiative, we're calling on adult smokers to become aware of the environmental impact and change their behaviour," says Marcelo Nico, managing director of Philip Morris South Africa (PMSA). "We're going a step further to provide beach ashtrays to make it easier to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly."

Nico says that the initiative is aligned with PMSA's 'Unsmoke' campaign, which encourages adult smokers to quit tobacco and nicotine entirely — and for those who don't quit, to consider switching to better, smoke-free alternatives. The company is focusing its business on smoke-free products to replace cigarettes as soon as possible.

Nico spoke at a media briefing in Camps Bay on Saturday, 7 December. As part of the initiative, the general public was invited to join beach clean-ups in Camps Bay and other major beaches including Clifton, Blouberg and Milnerton.

The briefing was attended by Greg Player, director of the Clean C NGO, and cleaning teams from the City of Cape Town's Solid Waste Department. The City conducts daily beach cleaning operations and makes litter disposal infrastructure available along the coastlines. The general public remains a crucial partner in keeping beaches clean.

Ald. Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste at the City of Cape Town, says, "The City is happy to support this programme, especially during a period that sees high numbers of visitors to our beautiful beaches."

"Our cleansing teams are on the ground daily, but it can be challenging to keep up with the amount of litter generated throughout the day — particularly in the case of cigarette butts, which are relatively small. We encourage all beachgoers to take responsibility for their waste. By working together we can make a big difference," adds Limberg. 

Greg Player, director of Clean C, concludes, "Our NGO coordinates beach clean-ups along the coast every first Saturday of the month under the Cape Town Beach Clean-up banner. It's good to see partners like PMSA coming on board. We encourage the public to get involved in preserving the heritage of our beautiful coastlines."

The public awareness drive on beaches is, according to PMSA, the next step in an anti-littering partnership with local authorities. The initial focus on cigarette butt litter in Cape Town's CBD is steadily being expanded to include the coastline and other locations.

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