Consider this: An estimated several trillion cigarette butts per year end up as litter around the world. That’s billions and billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, roadways, beaches, nature trails, gardens and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in the world.
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate — not cotton, as many people believe. They can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque settings, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment. Littered butts also start numerous fires every year, many of which cause fatalities. So, I guess cigarettes can be hazardous to your life in more ways than one.
I know everyone has strong feelings about smoking or not smoking, but I can’t get into that discussion. Smoking is a personal choice and as long as someone’s smoke or litter does not invade on everyone else’s space, then an adult smoker has the right to make that choice. Although I will say that I no longer have any living relatives who smoke, but I do have friends and co-workers who smoke. I respect their choices to do so.
We should expect those who smoke to follow some basic ground rules for disposing of cigarette litter. And when I say ground rules, I don’t mean use the ground as a trash can. I searched many sources — from Emily Post to the Bible — and came across the “10 commandments of cigarette litter.” OK, so in reality, following these commandments isn’t as significant as following the original 10, but I hope smokers will recognize the importance of wiping out cigarette pollution in their communities.
The 10 commandments of cigarette litter
I. Thou shalt not toss used cigarette butts on the ground.
II. Thou shalt not flick cigarette butts out of car windows while driving down the road.
III. Thou shalt not throw empty cigarette packages on the ground.
IV. Thou shalt never use toilets and sinks to dispose of your cigarette butts.
V. Thou shalt not empty car ashtrays on the ground at corners and stoplights.
VI. Thou shalt never, never toss cigarette litter in a storm drain, creek, lake, river or ocean.
VII. Thou shalt make sure that if you are a business owner or manager, there are adequate cigarette receptacles in designated smoking areas and transition points around your business, such as doors and parking lots.
VIII. Thou shalt make sure local city or county governments provide adequate cigarette receptacles in public locations, like parks.
IX. Thou shalt dispose of cigarette litter in a cigarette litter receptacle — not in parking lots, on sidewalks or in business doorways.
X. Thou shalt always carry a pocket ashtray and keep a car ashtray to use when on the run. These are available for free by calling Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cigarette litter is something we can all live without. So, smokers, please follow the 10 commandments!
Upcoming KLB activities that you need to know about
• iWin: Donate your used CDs and DVDs to First Presbyterian Christian Academy. They’ll exchange them for money to buy iPads and Kindles for their classrooms. Call Maria Reed at 876-0441 or email email@example.com to make a donation.
• Aug. 18 at noon: Progress Through People Luncheon at First Baptist Church in Hinesville. Keep Liberty Beautiful is hosting the Chamber of Commerce’s August luncheon. Anyone interested in learning about L.E.E.D. construction and certification at this informative event can call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or make a reservation through the chamber office by calling 368-4445.
Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful