Ten years ago local members of Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch lobbied the local council and foreshore committee to have smoking banned on a number of beaches in Torquay. They were sick of picking up cigarette butts and wanted to create cleaner beaches that were smoke free and cigarette butt free.
To their surprise, the Surf Coast Shire agreed and extended their proposal so that smoking was banned on all beaches from Torquay to Lorne (including Bells Beach).
It was a small victory in the fight against cigarette butts and the risks they pose to humans and the natural environment.
Cigarette butts are small, toxic time bombs that can have a huge impact on our beaches and the ocean. Most cigarette butts contain up to 72 toxic chemicals which are deadly to birds and wildlife. Cigarette butts take forever to break down and can hang around in our environment for up to 500 years. During that time they can do a lot of damage.
Smoking is in decline, but it is estimated that close to 30 billion cigarette butts get dropped in Australia each year… 32 BILLION! That is a lot of litter creating a lot of problems and if you ask anyone who has ever done a beach clean up… cigarette butts are bloody hard to identity at times and pick up.
Along with plastic, they are the number one problem on our beaches creating huge problems for beach lovers and the authorities who manage the coast.
Surfers around the world have been trying to get cigarettes banned at our beaches for over 30 years. They have constantly lobbied and advocated for butt free beaches.
Recently surfer/musician Jack Johnson took to the waters riding a surfboard made from 4,000 cigarette butts. The surfboard was created by The Cigarette Surfboard project in California. It was shaped in a fish style and made from recycled foam.
The makers got in touch with Jack who has been a strong advocate for protecting our oceans for decades and he agreed to take the surfboard for a spin in Hawaii.
The result is a strong environmental message (don’t drop your butts on the beach… or anywhere for that matter) and cool little film that is well worth seeing at via YouTube (‘Jack Johnson and The Cigarette Surfboard’).
Jack Johnson, a surfing legend who is always doing his bit to make our coasts and beaches cleaner and safer for everyone to enjoy.
Written by John Foss