A Greek Island Becomes the First Smoke-Free Island in the World, and It Can Be a Hope for All of Us
More than 60 million cigarettes butts have been collected from the sea in the last decade. According to the Ocean Conservancy, cigarettes are the number one source of ocean waste. “The butterfly of the South Aegean,” the nickname for the Greek island of Astypalea, has set a goal to become the first island in the world to ban smoking.
At Bright Side we support every project that helps a good environmental cause and we would love to tell you more about Astypalea and its smoke-free movement.
Many Greek beaches are filled with trash, including cigarette litter. Every year a team of volunteers from a non-profit organization in Greece clean up the beaches around the country.
The mayor of the island spoke about the “Astypalea without Cigarettes” vision, saying, “It is a conscious choice by residents and visitors, not the result of policy measures.” They’ve even created a hashtag to promote their vision #ASTYPALEASMOKEFREE.
Both islanders and local authorities encourage visitors to quit smoking, spend their energy on healthier habits like cycling, and become part of their smoke-free culture. A weird, yet interesting, fact about this project is that this small island’s campaign is sponsored by the biggest Greek tobacco company called Papastratos.
Aiming for a smoke-free future, Astypalea focuses on promoting well-being and a healthy quality life for its people and tourists who visit the beautiful island and raising awareness about the pollution of the beaches caused by cigarette butts.
It is true though, that they’ve set the bar really high since Greece is ranked among the top countries with the highest rate of tobacco consumption in Europe. It is also considered the black sheep in Europe for not following restrictive laws when it comes to smoking in public and private spaces.
During an interview, the mayor of the island was asked whether smokers are now unwelcome in Astypalea. His reply: “No, of course not! Quite the contrary actually. We welcome smokers and we hope that if they stay, at least for a little while, on a smoke-free island, maybe they’ll decide to quit smoking and join a healthier way of living.”
Bonus: These are 2, 1.5 liter bottles stuffed to the top with cigarettes collected at the beach in only 2 hours.
What are your thoughts on this promising project? Would you like to visit Astypalea? If you know of more places in your area that try to raise environmental awareness, please share them in the comments below. Good news should be shared!