We’re feeling the Earth Day love today. Of course, we can’t let the day get away without saying that cigarettes are not only the number one cause of preventable death on Mother Earth. They’re the number one cause of litter on our planet. Not to mention a major cause of air and water pollution.
Let’s being with air.
Secondhand smoke is harmful air pollution. According to the U.S Surgeon General secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 that cause cancer.
The need to protect our children who play outdoors from secondhand smoke is even more critical. Children exposed to even small amounts of smoke are at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, bronchitis, ear infections and asthma.
Let’s talk land and water.
Cigarette butts also pollute our land and water. In fact, those nasty little butts are the most littered item in the world with an estimated 845,000 tons of butts disposed of each year across the globe. Plus, ciggy butts never fully decompose and when they flow into our lakes, streams and rivers, they can harm animals, pets and marine life who mistake them for food.
That’s why we’re all about Tobacco-Free Outdoors.
Here at TFWNY, we’re proud of all the communities who have done their part in battling the butt problem by making their parks, beaches and playgrounds smoke free. At least 280 municipalities in New York State have adopted tobacco-free policies. Many local communities in Western New York are included on that list.
If you want your town, village or workplace to be added, give us a call. Lockport’s mayor Anne McCaffrey did. She celebrated Earth Day cleaning up Outwater Park with youth advocates from our Reality Check group at North Park School. Next stop: Tobacco-free parks.
Time to kick butts.
In the meantime, do yourself and the planet a big favor: don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, call New York State Smokers’ Quitline today at (866) 697-8487 for helpful support in kicking the habit. Until then, hold on to your butts.
By Gretchen Galley, TFWNY Communication Specialist