Cigarette Butt Epidemic Demands More Media Messaging by Governments
The Lynn Valley brush fire caused by a carelessly tossed cigarette butt, is just one example of the negative effect of butts in our community. Not only are butts a major cause of fires, they are toxic to the environment, in fact the most prevalent form of litter on earth. World waterways are contaminated with 1.7 billion pounds of butts annually. Such a tiny little item is having a huge negative impact.
During the rainy season, butts float along streets, down storm drains; small enough to bypass catchment areas, they enter local creeks and shorelines. Butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which can take 25 years to decompose. Filters, specially designed to accumulate toxins, leach out, each containing up to 1,400 chemicals, lethal to species of fish, shorebirds, crustaceans &plankton.
Sadly, the root of the problem is the well-intended smoke free policies that have led to an absence of ash trays everywhere, even in cars, the additional $100 cost for ashtrays prevents smokers from asking. In July 2013, there were 28 roadside fires along the Parkway from butts discarded from vehicles. Smoke free bylaws are just about everywhere, but they are never enforced. Toxic smoke lasts about 5 minutes in the air then dissipates, toxic butts last up to 25 years.
Vancouver Coastal Health states that only 8% of people smoke. I guarantee, evident in the butt epidemic, about 95% of those smokers toss irresponsibly. On , I picked up 1142 butts at Waterfront Park and 1 butt can pollute 30 litres of water! Do the math! Yet our Provincial, Federal and Municipalgovernment web sites and mainstream media are absent of any messaging regarding this tragic epidemic. PLEASE ask for a pocket ashtray when you purchase your smokes! If you want to get involved in our Cigarette Butt Free Communities Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me.
Litter Free Communities/ Cigarette Butt Free Campaign