Cigarette litter is ugly but, more than that, it is nasty and unhealthy.
Hey, smokers, I just want you to know that I do not want stuff that has been in your mouth all over the sidewalks and streets. I think every smoker should participate in at least one roadside cleanup and pick up those gazillion nasty little butts. I think it would change most smokers’ disposal process forever.
Now, I do not smoke, never have, never will. But this is not about smoking. That is a deadly choice that every smoker can make for himself. This is about the devastating effect this cigarette litter has on our environment, its creatures and, even, our waterways. Trillions of cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. Trillions is that same unbelievably high number as our national debt. That’s billions and billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, roadways, beaches, parks, nature trails, gardens and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America… and in the world.
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, not cotton as many believe. They can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin picturesque settings, but the toxic residue in filters is damaging. Littered butts also cause numerous fires and some fatalities. Evidently, cigarettes can be hazardous to your life in more ways than one.
We just need to insist that smokers follow ground rules for disposing of the litter. And when I say ground rules, I mean do not use the ground as a trash can:
1. Please do not toss your used cigarette butts on the ground.
2. Please do not flick your cigarette butts out the car window.
3. Please do not throw your empty cigarette packages on the ground, either.
4. Please never use other venues, like toilets and sinks, to dispose of cigarette butts.
5. Please do not empty your car ashtray on the ground.
6. Please make sure that you never toss cigarette litter in a storm drain or a creek, lake, river or ocean.
7. Please make sure your business has adequate receptacles in designated smoking areas and at transition points around your business, like doors and parking lots.
8. Please make sure governments have receptacles in public locations, like parks and business districts.
9. Please always dispose of cigarette litter in receptacle, not in parking lots, on sidewalks, down storm drains or in business doorways.
10. Please always carry a pocket ashtray with you and keep a car ashtray to use. These are available free at Keep Liberty Beautiful, 912-880-4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cigarette litter is something we can all live without. For more information about stopping cigarette litter or other KLB programs, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888 or email@example.com.
Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.