Stunned public come face to face with 6ft high mountain of 225,000 cigarette stubs in busy city centre in new art exhibition | Daily Mail Online

Stunned public come face to face with 6ft high mountain of 225,000 cigarette stubs in busy city centre in new art exhibition | Daily Mail Online
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Stunned public come face to face with 6ft high mountain of 225,000 cigarette stubs in busy city centre in new art exhibition

A giant mound of nearly a quarter of a million discarded cigarette ends has appeared on a high street in southwest London as part of a campaign encouraging Brits to think twice before dropping stubs in the street.

Made of real discarded cigarettes, the 6ft-tall mountain represents the 225,000 cigarettes said to be dropped on high streets across Britain every hour during the day.

The sculpture has been parachuted into Kingston Upon Thames, where reaction has varied from horror to confusion.

One child covered his eyes rather than look at the artwork, while one man relaxed on a bench that also forms part of the sculpture.

It even received a glance of acknowledgement from a passing smoker – while cigarettes were tipped onto the top of the sculpture by a man in a high-vis jacket to represent further littering.

The huge sculpture is made of real cigarette butts and represents the 225,000 ends said to be dropped on Britain’s high streets every hour

The sculpture includes a bench that people can sit on in order to examine the mound of ciggies up close

A passing smoker can’t help but acknowledge the giant pile of discarded cigarette butts as he walks past it in Kingston Upon Thames

Commissioned by charity Keep Britain Tidy, the sculpture will ultimately be displayed in a museum as a reminder of the scourge of discarded cigarettes.

It says cigarettes make up 66 per cent of all items littered in England – a problem exacerbated by the suggestion that smokers are less likely to view them as litter.

A poll commissioned by the organisation found that smokers were more than three times as likely not to view ends as litter: 23 per cent of smokers say they don’t count as rubbish, compared to seven per cent of non-smokers.

However, attitudes to all other types of litter were broadly the same across smokers and non-smokers alike – explaining, the charity claims, why some smokers don’t think twice about flicking away a loose end once they’re finished with it.

Allison Ogden-Newton, CEO of Keep Britain Tidy, said: ‘Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the UK and the consequences to our environment, our wellbeing, and our taxpayer are far more significant than many realise. 

‘A quarter of a million butts are dropped every hour on UK high streets alone – these areas are cleaned regularly, but the hour-by-hour deluge of butts makes the task of cleaning them up like painting the Forth Bridge – once you’ve finished, you just have to start again.

‘We need attitudes to change towards cigarette litter so that it is no longer viewed as acceptable, but rather as the single use plastic that it is. 

One child couldn’t stand the sight – or potentially even the smell – of the sculpture, made of discarded cigarette ends

‘We are asking smokers to please understand that they are contributing to a significant environmental issue in the UK and to take responsibility for disposing of their rubbish.’

Researchers who carried out real-world analysis of litter in the streets of Britain believe 2.7 million cigarette ends are thrown away in UK town centres every day.

The true figure of discarded ciggies in the UK, beyond the high streets, will be much higher – and just a fraction of the estimated 12 billion butts discarded globally every day. 

And while cigarettes make up two thirds of all discarded rubbish, they make up just a tiny amount of the amount thrown away by volume – which could explain why some people don’t see them as a problem compared to larger pieces of litter like bottles.

But the Local Government Association says councils spend hundreds of millions of pounds every year on street cleaning.

Earlier this year, prime minister Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to gradually increase the minimum age to buy cigarettes, meaning anyone aged 14 now will never legally be able to buy them.

The plan was officially announced as part of the King’s Speech earlier in November – but there are concerns that the ban could create a black market in tobacco.

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