CIGARETTE butts are blighting Isle of Wight beaches, a survey has shown.

Plastic Aware, the IW-based campaign group, is urging the Isle of Wight's visitors and residents to dispose of their cigarette butts more carefully after its surveys revealed the extent of the pollution caused by discarded fag-ends.

In June and July, Plastic Aware surveyed three areas of coast in Ventnor, Shanklin and Orchard Bay, St Lawrence, and collected more than 85 cigarette butts for every 100 metres of beach, which is considerably more than the 35 per 100 metres collected in the annual Marine Conservation Society beach clean last year.

Sarah Marshall, of Plastic Aware, said: “People are becoming increasingly aware of the damage done by single-use plastics, thanks to the ground-breaking television series Blue Planet 2.

“Yet many are still unaware that cigarette filters contain plastic and are not biodegradable. Cigarette filters absorb tar and toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, such as cadmium, lead and arsenic, and once they end up in the sea these chemicals leak into the water. They can be mistakenly eaten by marine wildlife.”

“This year’s sunny weather may have contributed to the large numbers of butts discarded on beaches. ͞Often people are simply unaware of the harm that can be done by cigarette butts – they think they will biodegrade.

“But cigarette filters contain the plastic cellulose acetate, one of the many microplastics found trapped in Arctic sea ice by researchers.”

Plastic Aware is developing a number of schemes to help businesses, organisations and individuals tackle cigarette butt pollution.

To be involved, contact or go to