The chairwoman and Tallinn mayoral candidate of the Estonian Greens Züleyxa Izmailova told daily Õhtuleht (link in Estonian) that giving those that drop cigarette butts on the ground an electric shock is not a bad idea. Izmailova told ERR that she meant the statement as a joke, adding that cigarette butts are a serious environmental issue.
"It was meant as a joke, but looking at what is going on with cigarette butts in Tallinn, it is far from a joke. We organized a study in Tallinn a few years ago and saw what is happening in our seawater and it became clear that half of the trash that made it into the sea from Tallinn was made up of cigarette butts," Izmailova said.
"There have been smaller campaigns such as 'Meri algab siit', but the reality is that our streets and playgrounds are littered with cigarette butts and we cannot reach the point where cigarettes going into the trash is a normality," she added.
Izmailova told the daily on Thursday that the Tallinn Municipal Police should be maintained as an institution, since the police force is weakened each year. She added that supplemental force could be used, if it is necessary.
Not only is the issue of cigarette butts ugly to see, it is a global problem because cigarette filters do not break down and absorb toxins when they reach the sea, eventually ending up in the bodies of fish eaters, Izmailova said.
The Greens chairwoman said the issue is not dealt with at a state level. While tobacco excise duty makes its way to the state budget, local municipality governments gain nothing from it.
"A solution would also be to implement producer responsibility. If cigarette producers redesigned their products and used biodegradable plant filters, for example. I cannot imagine Estonia lobbying at tobacco producers for such changes," Izmailova concluded.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste