Editorial by the New York State Smokers' Quitline
On Sunday, April 22, countless numbers of New York state residents will participate in Earth Day activities to better the environment. While there are many ways to beautify and protect the earth, the New York State Smokers' Quitline suggests the following as one of the most effective ways to "go green": Quit smoking.
Although smoking rates are at historic lows in New York, Earth Day volunteers, unfortunately, will find one particular item to be ubiquitous during their cleanup efforts: cigarette butts. According to the Truth Initiative (https://truthinitiative.org
), cigarette butts are the most littered item in the country.
The Truth Initiative also reported cigarette butts are the most prominently littered item on U.S. highways and have consistently comprised 30 to 40 percent of all items collected in annual international coastal and urban cleanups since the 1980s. And although 86 percent of smokers consider cigarette butts to be litter, three-quarters of smokers report disposing of them on the ground or out of a car window.
As small as cigarette butts are, even one can do immerse harm. A cigarette butt will take a minimum of nine months to break down, and its particles can dilute soil and water during that time. Animals, fish and even children may accidentally ingest littered cigarette butts - which contain chemicals. Finally, discarded cigarette butts are a leading cause of forest and house fires.
Protecting the environment can be one of many reasons to stop smoking. The New York State Smokers' Quitline believes that no reason for quitting is trivial; whatever works, go with it. Then, when it's time to take action, tobacco users should talk with their health care provider and also call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for coaching and resources.
The New York State Smokers' Quitline is a free resource for all state residents, and "Quit Coaches" are available seven days a week beginning at 9 a.m. to help tobacco users in their quest toward achieving and maintaining a smoke-free life. Additional resources are available online at www.nysmokefree.com