Opinion

Some facts about cigarette butts on our streets

Some facts about littered cigarette butts, from the Web site www.nobuttsaboutit.net

n 4.5 trillion butts are littered yearly worldwide.

n Every littered cigarette butt can take up anywhere from two to twenty-five years to biodegrade.

n According to the Center for Marine Conservation, cigarette butt litter accounts for one in every five items collected on cleanups, making it the most prevalent form of litter ON EARTH.

n Dropped cigarette butts have been the cause of house and apartment fires, as well as some of the largest and most destructive forest fires. Fires caused by cigarette butts claim the lives of about 1,000 people and injure about 3,000 people each year.

n Cigarettes are very often littered within 10 feet of a permanent ashtray. Now that most buildings do not allow smoking inside, the problem of discarded butts on sidewalks, entryways and in courtyards is increasing.

n Young children sometimes ingest cigarette butts that are discarded on the ground and they can get very sick.

n Smokers who are made aware of the litter problem are most often cooperative in disposing of their cigarette litter properly.

n There are over 176,000,000 pounds of discarded butts in the United States each year.

n 80 percent of butts on the ground find their way into our water systems and detract from the quality of our drinking water.

n Animals and marine life which ingest dropped cigarette butts can become ill or die from them.

If we all work together, we can make the world butt-free.

— This column is a periodic feature written by members of the San Juan Anti-Litter Initiative.

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