Gulf News reader Vijay Vivekanandan participates in the beach clean-up campaign. Image Credit: Vijay Vivekanandan

Dubai

May 31 is marked as World No Tobacco Day. The main motive of this special day is to beat the usage of tobacco for the improvement of health, prosperity, betterment of the environment and for overall national development. So, we decided to do our bit to make a difference.

The cigarette butts, which are thrown by the smokers on beaches and roadsides, greatly contribute to environmental degradation and imbalance. They could be mistaken for food by birds, fish and other aquatic animals leading to death from choking and blocked digestion, as stated in a report published by National Geographic.

As a small step towards improvement of lifestyle on this day, I participated in a beach clean-up drive along with officials from the Dubai Municipality and group members from Green Hope UAE, a youth organisation. Our aim was to collect as many cigarette butts as possible from the beach, in order to protect aquatic life.

The beach clean-up went on for one hour and by the end, I was astounded to see the number of cigarette butts I had collected. Even after collecting so many, I could still see a large number of butts lying on the shore.

It was so disheartening to see the carelessness of the public even though a wide number of dustbins have been placed all around the beaches for waste disposal. Tobacco has a large number of ill effects on the environment and consumers. Nearly 7 million people die every year from tobacco use, as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is shocking to know that even youngsters and teenagers get addicted to the use of tobacco due to wrong influences, which greatly affect their health and prosperity.

It is high time that we take steps towards this haphazard act and protect Nature from all these evil acts for a better and sustainable future.

— The reader is a student based in Dubai.

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FACTS:

According to a Gulf News report published on March 24, 2016, motorists and beach-goers who throw their cigarette butts on roads and public beaches will be slapped with a Dh500 fine. The fine will double, then triple for each repeat offence for litterbugs.

This also applies to public parks and even busy commercial areas around the UAE.