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Greenwashing Claim Amid Funding Crisis

Action on Smoking and Health accuses Clean Up Britain campaign of tobacco industry greenwashing as local authority public health budgets come under increased funding pressure

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Action on Smoking and Health (ASH UK) accuses Clean Up Britain of being a front group for the tobacco industry and says its latest campaign in Bristol is an example of greenwashing. Local authority public health budgets are coming under increased funding pressure and ASH UK calls on the government to take urgent action.

Clean Up Britain has announced that it is working with partner Ellipsis Earth on a project to clean up cigarette rubbish on the streets of Bristol over a 10-day period. This forms part of a larger 4-month operation called “Get Your Butt Off Our Streets”.

Clean Up Britain will be launching drones to take before and after images to measure the success of its campaign. It will be installing portable ashtrays, placing up advertising on 48 bus stop sites across Bristol and engaging with a social media campaign.

Clean Up Britain’s director John Read said: “This is a huge opportunity to reduce cigarette pollution in the city. We know cigarette litter is a massive blight on Britain’s streets. Bristol is no different – people want to see the back of it. To tackle this, we’re bringing the latest tech together with a very clear, very blunt message – Get Your Butt Off Our Streets! It's just a shame Bristol City Council have not embraced the campaign for the benefit of their residents.”

Bristol City council responded by pointing out that they can’t have anything to do with the campaign because it has been funded by Philip Morris Limited.

Chief executive of ASH UK Deborah Arnott said: “Our obligations under the WHO international tobacco treaty prohibit branches of government, whether national, or local like Bristol City Council, from partnering with the tobacco industry or its front groups like Clean Up Britain, except through legally enforceable agreements. That’s why Bristol was right not to be a partner in this campaign. It’s also why the Government needs to get a move on and put in place legislation to make the industry clean up the toxic waste that it creates.

“This campaign is greenwashing, pure and simple, it attempts to make the tobacco industry look good by putting the blame on smokers. It’s tobacco companies, not smokers, responsible for the cigarette butts made out of long-lasting plastic which sits there leaching toxic waste into the earth, our rivers and our oceans. Big Tobacco needs to take the blame and clear up the mess caused by the highly addictive cigarettes it sells day in day out to over 6 million smokers in the UK.

“As set out in the Government’s Litter Strategy for England, the most effective way to tackle smoking related litter is by reducing the prevalence of smoking in the first place. Hardly surprising for a campaign funded by a tobacco company it doesn’t encourage smokers to quit, if anything this campaign promotes smoking by publicising it on social media, bus stop posters, pavement installations and the provision of 100,000 free portable ashtrays.”

Recently, ASH UK highlighted the chronic funding crisis impacting on local authority health departments and stop smoking services.

Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive of ASH UK, commented: “Now more than ever councils see the value in protecting the public’s health and the benefit of a local population that is fit and healthy. However, funding for services have been cut by a third and is insufficient to cope with the new pressures now looming. A levy on tobacco companies to fund tobacco control is needed or thousands of smokers will fail to get the help they need to quit successfully.”

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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