Here, There and Everywhere – Stemming the Tide of Cigarette Litter

By: Moriah Solomon
Did you know? Every year, several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide. This shocking statistic is proof that we need some mechanism to prevent this epidemic. Unfortunately, cigarettes are the most littered item throughout the world. Contrary to the myth that cigarette filters are biodegradable, they can take many years to decompose.

Moreover, many smokers do not realize that, in addition to damaging and unsightly litter, their actions have the potential of causing devastating fires, particularly throughout the drought-ridden western states.

Cigarette litter includes everything from throwing a butt out a window, tossing it on the ground or putting it out in a planter, to tossing it into waterways. It’s unsightly, costly to clean up, polluting, and harmful to wildlife. In fact, very often pieces are found in stomachs of fish, birds, and other marine creatures that mistake them for food. Another concerning fact is that, according to the American Burn Association, about 900 people in the U.S die each year in fires started by cigarettes and about 2,500 are injured. Nationally, annual human and property costs due to fires caused by irresponsible smokers are estimated at about $6 billion.

So what can you do as a smoker? Be responsible for your behavior, use designated smoking areas when smoking in public, and do not dispose of cigarette butts indiscriminately. Keep the butt until you find an ashtray or trash can. You can gently encourage others to smoke only in designated areas. These areas should have ash receptacles, lighting, seating, and are usually convenient to find and use. Keep in mind that designated smoking areas have been promoted for public health reasons as well as for fire prevention and litter-control.

Let’s all do our part to stamp out butts and Keep Arizona Beautiful!