Statement on Plastics Pollution

Cigarettes are the most littered single-use plastic on Earth

The following is a statement delivered by Vital Strategies, a partner in STOP, at the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international treaty on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, when the floor opened to civil society submissions. For more information on this topic, visit Cigarettes = Plastics and the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance website.

Watch Jorge Alday’s statement on why a decision to ban filters in cigarettes would be a major win for global, public & environmental health.

“Thank you to the UN Environment Programme, delegates of member States and esteemed civil society colleagues for the opportunity to contribute. My name is Jorge Alday, I am a director at Vital Strategies working with STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog and part of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance.

Plastics are taking a devastating toll on our planet and on human, animal, bird and marine life.

We have passed the point where ‘cleaning up’ plastics on our streets and beaches, rivers and oceans is enough. Recycling is not enough. And we can’t rely on powerful companies that profit from plastic to do enough on their own.

So we need a firm and binding global commitment to reduce all unnecessary plastics.

We recognize that not all plastics are the same. Some are necessary, many are not. Some are more toxic than others. Some clearly harm people and our environment.

On each of these counts, cigarettes filters stand out as both harmful and completely unnecessary. Cigarette filters are designed to make smoking easier and that same design contributes to massive plastic pollution. 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded every year, making these products the most littered item on Earth.

The tobacco industry suggests it’s a positive force—it is not. That is why we already have an entire treaty, the Word Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in place to try and reduce the devastating toll this industry takes on health.

We now have the opportunity to reduce that same industry’s impact on our planet. Cigarette filters must be removed. They are toxic, single-use, plastic products that only provide profits to already wealthy and questionable corporations.

For this meeting to deliver a future with less plastic pollution, tobacco should not be afforded any exemption. A decision to ban filters in cigarettes, most of which are made from plastic, is perhaps the fastest and easiest way this meeting could contribute to global public and environmental health.”

Please contact the STOP press office for more information or to speak to a STOP spokesperson.

About STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products)

STOP is a global tobacco industry watchdog whose mission is to expose the tobacco industry strategies and tactics that undermine public health. STOP is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and comprised of a partnership among The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, The Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and Vital Strategies. For more information, visit

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.