SYRACUSE — The Kosciusko County Voice Core Leadership Team, Kosciusko County Voice Action Squad, and Wawasee High School Key Club students will conduct a community-wide waste tobacco filters event this weekend.
They will be working on behalf of the Kosciusko County Tobacco Free Coalition. The coalition’s goal is to reduce the environmental impacts of discarded cigarette butts in cities and towns.
Teens are invited to attend the event at noon Saturday, March 14, at Syracuse Community Center to participant in the local Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action.
According to a 2011 The Tax Burden on Tobacco report, Americans purchased more than 287 billion cigarettes. A vast number of those cigarette butts, including the filters, will be flicked into the environment, landing along waterways, parks, beaches and public roads.
In observance of Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action, Kosciusko County Voice Core Leadership Team is working to raise awareness about the negative impact cigarette filters and discarded cigarette butts have on the environment. Cigarette butts contain heavy metals that can leach into waterways, posing a lethal threat to aquatic life. They are costly to local communities to clean up and dispose of, as well.
According to environmental cleanup reports, nearly 2 million cigarettes or cigarette filters and butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 2010, including more than 1 million from the United States alone. Cigarette butts account for more than three-times the number of any other item found over the past 25 years of ICC cleanups. Research shows that cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems. In one laboratory test, just one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed.
Cigarette butts are made mostly of plastic, which can take years to decompose in the marine environment into smaller pieces. While a majority of the respondents surveyed nationally (78 percent) know cigarette butts are not typically biodegradable and recognize their toxicity (89 percent), tobacco products are still the most-prevalent type of litter collected along U.S. roadways and on beaches. These toxic pieces of trash are only biodegradable under ideal conditions and in real world conditions, they merely break up into small particles of plastic.
Cigarette filters/butts have become the last socially acceptable form of littering in the increasingly health and environmentally-conscious world. There are a few things people can do to help raise awareness about this toxic problem. First, host a waste tobacco filter cleanup. Second, speak to local elected officials about the effects of cigarette butt littering, and third, empower youth to take action in their communities.
For more information, contact Heidi Blake at Kosciusko County Tobacco Free Coalition by calling (574) 372-3514 or email her at [email protected]