Cigarette butts are the most common pieces of litter | News
ALBANY, GA- Do you know the most common piece of litter in the country? Cigarette butts.
They're all over the place! 287 billion cigarettes were sold last year in the United States and many of them end up on roadsides, beaches and parks.
Cigarette butts contain cancer causing chemicals and heavy metals that can make their way into soil and waterways.
As you can see behind me there are hundreds of cigarette butts under the bypass.
People will usually flick it out of their car window before getting on the highway.
And it is doing more damage than you might think.
Billions of cigarette butts are littered each year.
"Over the years people have not thought of that as litter, it has been acceptable to just flick a cigarette butt out of your car window," said Judy Bowles, Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful.
Contrary to what you may believe, the filters are not biodegradable and Bowles says it can take up to 300 years for them to break down.
And not only are they an ugly sight, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment.
"Those cigarette butts go down into the storm drain which takes it directly into the flint river untreated and tobacco is one of the most potent drugs known to man in its pure form, and so it really bothers the ecosystem," said Bowles.
And they are incredibly toxic, loaded with carcinogens and heavy metals that can make their way into waterways, putting marine life in danger.
"So think about all of those bass fishermen wanting to fish, well you know bass will get pretty much anything, and pretty soon you are going to have bass filled with cigarette butts," said Steve Allen, Albany Rotary Club President.
Which is why some civic club members want smokers to stop flicking their cigarette butts along roads. "I've seen people dump their ash trays out, I mean it is just horrendous that these smokers don't think that they are littering when they do this," Allen.
The Albany and Dougherty County Rotary Clubs are active in the "No Butts Please" campaign.
"It brings a little awareness to people, we hand out these little cigarette butts trays for them to keep in their car and we try to ask them if you smoke, please use this and then dump it out, don't throw your trash out to where we have to pick it up," said Allen.
He hopes once people know the truth, they will be much more hesitant to unthinkingly flick their cigarette butts on the ground.
If caught throwing your cigarette butt out of the window, you could receive a fine of up to $1,000.
Transportation officials say 51 billion pieces of litter were thrown on U.S. highways in 2010, and 38 percent was tobacco products.
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