A PORTRAIT of David Attenborough made entirely from cigarette butts was unveiled to Barry schoolchildren to mark No Smoking Day, on Wednesday, March 13.

The portrait, by Welsh Artist Nathan Wyburn, was commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales to highlight the impact of cigarette litter on the environment and is made from butts collected on beaches in Wales by Keep Wales Tidy

Barry Island Primary School pupils took part in a litter pick on Barry Island Beach organised by Keep Wales Tidy and ere given a talk on cigarette litter by Keep Wales Tidy, before being the first to see Nathan unveil his portrait of Sir David Attenborough, who now campaigns to raise awareness of climate change and the plastic in our oceans.

According to Keep Wales Tidy, last year cigarette butts were found on 80.3 per cent of streets in Wales.

Many of the butts dropped in the street fall down drains and eventually find their way into the waterways and the sea.

They are not biodegradable and contain plastic, remaining in the environment for up to 15 years.

Cigarette filters contain harmful chemical ingredients including arsenic, lead and nicotine, that pollute waterways and the toxins in tobacco residue endanger animals.

One cigarette butt left to soak in water for 96 hours, will release enough toxins to kill half of the salt or fresh water fish that are exposed to it.

CEO of ASH Wales, Suzanne Cass said: “This year we wanted to use No Smoking Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the environmental impact of cigarette butts and there is a very serious message behind Nathan Wyburn’s portrait.

“Through the BBC series Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough has shown the devastating impact plastic is having on our oceans.

“Plastic filled cigarette butts are a part of that problem and play a big part in turning the seas into what Sir David Attenborough has described as a ‘toxic soup’.

“Many smokers do not know the damage cigarettes do to the planet and we hope that by making people more aware of the impact, it might give them an extra incentive to kick this highly addictive habit.”

A Keep Britain Tidy survey last year found less than half of smokers know cigarettes contain plastic.

Meanwhile 10 per cent think cigarettes are biodegradable.

Chief executive of Keep Wales Tidy, Lesley Jones said: “We want to debunk the myths and misconceptions around the disposal of cigarette ends.

“Because of their size, many people don’t recognise cigarette ends as litter and the real damage they can cause.

“They are not biodegradable and are harmful to our health, wildlife and the environment.”