Cigarette butts threatening to stub out marine life on the Angus coastline has prompted calls for a ban on smoking in all public spaces.
Pressure group Angus Clean Environments (ACE) believe the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces should be extended to tackle the impact on wildlife and the environment.
Wendy Murray of ACE made the call in the wake of the Great Angus Beach Clean and the Angus Coastal Festival which concluded with a clean-up at Montrose on Monday.
She said: “The ban on smoking in enclosed public places has created a problem in the marine environment due to the vast amount of cigarette butts being discarded in streets and at local beauty spots.
“These discarded cigarettes eventually enter the drainage system and continue to the sea.
“Many people sit on benches in parks and open spaces to enjoy Scotland’s beautiful landscape but then discard their cigarette butts on the ground.
“These eventually find their way into the marine environment.
“ACE believe that the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces should be extended to include a ban on smoking in all public spaces.”
The total weight picked up during the second Great Angus Beach Clean was 1.5 tonnes, including cigarette butts which can take 10 to 12 years to degrade, as well as dispersing microplastics.
Councillor Julie Bell, Angus Council’s habitat champion for marine litter, urged smokers to change their behaviour before it’s too late.
She said: “None of us can do this alone but every little thing each of us does is part of a much bigger picture.
“We were delighted that around 25 people arrived at Victoria Park, Arbroath, for a litter pick, but appalled that we found so many cigarette ends.
“Whilst it’s great that people are walking there or enjoying the view from their cars, it’s clear that flicking their butts away is having a massive impact on the immediate environment and therefore further afield.
“Please, take your cigarette ends home – as the former tobacco control lead for Angus, I’m really keen to see us reach out to smokers a stage at a time.
“The amount we collected certainly had an impact on the children and their families who recognised what an issue this has become.
“This has certainly provided some ideas for developing a local approach to debris on beaches and smokers.”
The SNP member for Kirriemuir also commended everyone who took part in all the Great Angus Beach Clean and Angus Coastal Festival activity, including local schoolchildren.
She said dog mess, discarded plastic bottles, plastic cotton bud stems, tiny bits of fishing line, crisps and sweet wrappers were among the debris.