LIFE AMMOS project aimed at the prevention and reduction of smoking-related litter on beaches. At the same time, the project tried to increase citizens’ awareness and understanding of the problem of coastal and marine pollution in general. To meet its objectives, the consortium developed and implemented an integrated information campaign that was based on the combined use of digital communication technologies and traditional media.
The project (LIFE12 INF/GR/000985) was implemented by MEDITERRANEAN SOS Network and its partners ΤERRA NOVA Ltd, University of Patras (Oceanus-Lab) and MARC S.A. with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, as well as with the financial contribution of the Green Fund and Blue Star Ferries.
Marine litter is a major environmental problem that has adverse economic impacts on tourism, fisheries, and other sectors (including aquaculture, agriculture, shipping and leisure boating). It is also potentially harmful to human health. Reduction of litter, especially discarded cigarette butts, would improve the aesthetic value of beaches and boost hygiene, as well as eliminating the need for expensive clean ups. Litter affects sensitive coastal zones and causes considerable damage to marine animals and birds. Cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and contain numerous hazardous chemicals, such as nicotine, cadmium, lead and arsenic. When the butts are discarded, these chemicals leach into the environment, adding to existing water and soil pollution, and posing a threat to wildlife. Furthermore, cigarette butts are frequent cause of fires when carelessly discarded. There is an urgent need to inform beach users of the risks of smoking-related litter, including visitors (especially smokers) and commercial operations, to prevent pollution on Mediterranean coasts, such as the beaches on Greece’s extensive coastline that attract high visitor numbers.
The objective of the LIFE AMMOS project was to implement an integrated information campaign for the prevention/reduction of smoking-related litter in coastal areas of Greece. It addressed the main causes of the problem, including ignorance of the environmental impacts of discarded cigarette butts, a lack of integrated approaches for tackling marine litter, and an absence of appropriate, user-friendly and affordable infrastructure. The project aimed to change behaviour through the combined use of technology and awareness-raising practices, to prevent coastal pollution from cigarette butts. In addition to practices, to prevent coastal pollution from cigarette butts. In addition to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and safeguarding public health, the project also contributed to the implementation of relevant EU legislation. The project also aimed to launch on-site campaigns on coasts to inform the public and provide applicable solutions (e.g., single-use ashtrays); carry out training activities at schools to inform students and establish behavioural change; and monitor the project’s impact to enhance its effectiveness and encourage replication in other areas affected by the same problem.
The LIFE AMMOS project helped reduce amounts of smoking-related litter on beaches in Greece, through a campaign aiming to change the behaviour of visitors (especially smokers) and to develop innovative tools for abating the problem of littering. The project established a novel methodology for assessing the impact of its integrated communication and information campaign on the environmental status of beaches in relation to smoking litter. LIFE AMMOS staff surveyed a total of 15 Greek beaches, at 5 different periods within one year, and showed that all the examined beaches were characterised by significant or high levels of discarded cigarette butts. The average values measured ranged from 0.4 to 8.5 butts per square meter (for the examined squares on each beach). These results were in accordance with the existing literature showing that cigarette butt abundance on coasts is directly proportional to distance from urban centres and the number of visitors. During its two-year lifetime, LIFE AMMOS developed and implemented a communication campaign and a series of tools addressing the issue of coastal littering. Public awareness was raised by promotional actions in local and nationwide media, via social networks and through information campaigns on the project beaches. An environmental education package entitled ‘Marine litter – The human footprint on coasts and seas was developed and was used for educating 5,095 high school children on marine and coastal environment littering.
The project also built information kiosks on the 15 beaches, installed litter bins, and produced posters, leaflets, factsheets, a website, a TV and radio spot and an informative video. Through LIFE AMMOS, three innovative tools were developed: i) an integrated monitoring system for cigarette-related litter on beaches; ii) an advanced application for smartphones named "Ammos" (iOS & Android) for informing the public about the problem and the levels of smoking-related litter on 2,500 Greek beaches (users input grades for levels of litter on all these beaches); and iii) a disposable ashtray. The project produced 350,000 of these recycled paper ashtrays (175,000 were distributed on the 15 project beaches and another 15,000 by Blue Star Ferries). A "Do-It-Yourself" campaign was launched to encourage citizens to replicate the on-site activities of the LIFE AMMOS project by organising their own voluntary campaigns, using the same tools and methods. Four parallel voluntary actions were implemented, with the participation of a total of 72 students. The assessment of the data collected showed that LIFE AMMOS directly resulted in visible and measurable reductions in smoking-related litter. During the project’s implementation (2013-2014), the litter load was decreased in total by 67 % (with a range between 19 % and 90 %). The data were collected through fieldwork, and the analysed results were included in the project’s ‘Report on cigarette butt density in Greek beaches. The most important qualitative benefit of the project was shown to be a greater understanding of coastal littering amongst school children, local communities and tourists. The project contributed to achieving the objectives of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC), according to which Member States must achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020 for their marine waters, and the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (the Barcelona Convention) of 1976. Marine litter is a serious affront to the visual and aesthetic sensitivities of tourists and local visitors to beaches, and cigarette butts are potentially dangerous to small children if ingested. For these reasons, tourists tend to avoid beaches with high marine litter concentrations. The project, therefore, has the potential to substantially aid the sustainable development of coastal areas of Greece.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's Layman’s report and in the “Results from smoking related litter measurements from 15 (+2) Greek beaches”.
Download here the LIFE AMMOS factsheet in English and in Greek.
This video was created in the context of the LIFE AMMOS project and focuses on the intensive awareness and information campaign that was implemented in 15 beaches across Greece in the summer of 2014. An information kiosk is strategically located at every area and is being run by the local Beach Supervisor. The Beach Supervisor informs visitors about the environmental impacts of discarded cigarette butts and the LIFE AMMOS, as well as distributes the disposable paper ashtrays that were specially designed for the purposes of the project.
Lab. of Marine Geology
& Physical Oceanography
Department of Geology
UNIVERSITY of PATRAS
26504 PATRAS - GREECE
tel: +302610996275, +302610996295, +302610996162