Attention: Smokers, Are you killing fish without knowing it?

Photo by Susan Lewitt: A walk around my block produced all these butts, along with some other litter, which included a matt knife blade.

“Since filters trap the toxic stuff in cigarettes that causes cancer and other health problems, it is not surprising that research shows that they can be toxic to aquatic life.” (Sierra, Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet, “What about Butts?” page 9, Jan/Feb 2015)

Smokers, if you are not containing your butts, from our streets, sewers and sidewalks, they end up in our streams, lakes and oceans. Even if the marine life ignores these things, the toxins leach out into the water. We can hold our breath for a moment or two, if we don’t want to inhale your second hand smoke, but the aquatic life can’t do that to avoid the toxins you have inadvertently added to the water.  Maybe you think it is only 1 or 2 butts a day, but multiply that by hundreds of thousands of other smokers, just in San Diego alone. Did you realize that “the nicotine trapped inside 200 used filters may be sufficient to kill a 160 pound adult human – 30 to 60 milligrams.”   (Mother Earth is not an Ashtray Just imagine what that could do to a small fish. Not only do the filters contain toxins, but they are mostly made of Cellulose acetate which is not biodegradable.

The question is then, how do we curb this uncontrolled use of our streets as ashtrays. Do we have to institute a citywide ban on smoking outdoors, including banning smoking in motorized vehicles? Or will smokers start showing respect for the only environment we have to live on (Planet Earth) and not flick their butts out of their car windows or toss them into the streets as they saunter by on foot or bicycle?


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