Letter to the Editor

Keep an eye on the cigarette butts

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To the Editor:

This past week was Earth Week in the USA.

As stewards of our Earth and Clay County, we have a responsibility to teach each other and our children about taking care of our world.

This includes disposing of our trash properly, not throwing it out the car window or on the street. One trash item that seems to get very little consideration is cigarette butts.

As one of the smallest pieces of litter, cigarette butt litter represents a large percentage of the litter collected in community cleanups.

Discarded cigarette butts introduce a product to our environment which breaks down very slowly. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. The filters contain cellulose acetate in the form of a fiber that looks like cotton thread.

These fibers take years to degrade in the environment.

Similarly, cigarette butts take up a large volume of space. If one person smokes a pack and a half a day, he will consume more than 10,000 cigarettes in a year. This number of cigarette butts (filters only, not including remnant tobacco) will fill a volume of five liters. Worldwide annual consumption of cigarettes creates enough cigarette butt waste to fill more than 2,800,000,000 liters.

One solution to the cigarette butt problem is for smokers to dispose properly of their butts. Another solution is for smokers to quit smoking. And for those who desire help to stop smoking, there is a free helpline.

Indiana's toll free Quitline offers an opportunity for tobacco users to receive up to six sessions with a trained quit coach. Pregnant women can receive up to 10 free sessions.

It's very simple. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Make a commitment to a healthier, cleaner Clay County.

Kandace Brown,

Clay County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coordinator