Saturday, June 20, 2015

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 Feb. 28th, 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.

Elise Roberts
Litter Free Communities/ Cigarette Butt Free Campaign

8 comments:

John Sharpe said...

One thing not covered is what exactly are smokers supposed to do with their cigarette butts? Is flushing them down the Throne the answer? Are they better dealt with in the sewer system or not?

Anonymous said...

They should be put in a container and recycled. The filters can be used to make plastic. Tossing cigarette butts on the ground is littering, pure and simple. Time to step up enforcement for that and all the other bylaws that are being ignored in the City and District. I don't know what our bylaw officers and police e are doing, but they're nowhere to be seen in our community. Speeding and truck traffic on residential streets are particularly getting out of hand. No enforcement lends tacit approval to the activity.

Anonymous said...

It costs ~$260,000/year to employ a police officer including wages, benefits, training and equipping (Cars, weapons, radios etc.). Having them watching smokers to bust them for dropping a butt on the ground would be a gross waste of public resources. Litter is a manageable problem that is getting better, not worse. Thirty years ago there were cigarettes everywhere and litter was still being tossed all over the community. Now litter tend to be concentrated around bus stops.

Anonymous said...

No one expects the police to enforce littering, unless they see it in the act. That's what bylaw officers are for. But where are the police with respect to enforcing traffic and moving violations? They're nowhere to be seen, not even school zones and other speed reduced zones. Drivers are becoming faster and less attentive on residential streets and no one is penalizing their actions.

Anonymous said...

What about construction noise bylaw enforcement? It is not to be found. In the DNV there is no construction noise allowed on Sundays and statutory holidays. When you phone, you get nothing from the RCMP, the DNV Bylaws Office, or strata councils if relevant. Without the known enforcement of municipal bylaws, they are simply ignored.

Anonymous said...

And that's the problem, the City and District lack the will to enforce their own bylaws. Noise, speeding, litter, etc. all contribute to making for a less livable environment. So what can be done? I'd suggest that council stop creating new bylaws until they're prepared to enforce the ones that are on the books.

Anonymous said...

Aggressive enforcement of bylaws also hurts livability. Gracious application of enforcement helps keep our small town feel.

Anonymous said...

There isn't even gracious enforcement...