Earth Day is a good time to examine the main contributors to litter in our communities.
Worldwide, cigarette butts are the most littered item, making up about 38 percent of collected solid litter. This is concerning when you consider that about 267 billion cigarettes are smoked each year. They contain 7,000 toxic chemicals, and given that cigarette butts are nonbiodegradable, these chemicals have time to leach into the soil and groundwater. The nicotine left over in discarded cigarettes is poisonous to both animals and small children that tend to eat items left on the ground. This issue becomes even greater when you consider that a majority of smokers admit to leaving cigarette butts on the ground or throwing them out car windows.
One way to reduce tobacco litter and help keep our planet and communities clean is by keeping tobacco out of parks and playgrounds. Businesses can also use these rules to keep their grounds clean and reduce maintenance costs. In addition to reducing litter, providing tobacco-free outdoor spaces protects residents and employees from dangerous secondhand smoke. Visit smokefreefingerlakes.com to learn more.
Brigid Heenan
Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes