No butts about it— this is littering
As part of our anti-littering campaign called Keep American Samoa Beautiful (KASB), the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA) has designated the months of February and March to highlight a growing problem of cigarette butts littering in the territory.
Walk along any beach or through any park and chances are, you’ll see dozens of discarded remains of cigarettes. We are so accustomed to seeing cigarette butts everywhere that it has become an accepted norm for smokers to just throw them on the ground. This type of litter not only impacts the beauty of our natural surroundings.\, but most alarmingly, impacts the environment significantly.
AS-EPA Acting Director Faamao Asalele stated that “this practice of discarding cigarette butts on the ground or anywhere is becoming a major problem and it needs to stop. This habit of discarding cigarette butts and other rubbish is degrading our standard of living, the quality of life, and the natural beauty of our environment.”
Smoke from cigarettes is not healthy for people. But when the butts or filters are tossed on the ground, they, too, become a health hazard to humans, wildlife and the environment. The toxic chemical makeup of cigarette butts can contaminate waterways, poison birds and fishes, and is a health hazard to children who try to eat them.
Studies have shown that discarded cigarette butts releases cancer causing chemicals such as arsenic, nicotine and ethyl phenol. Most people think that cigarette butts are biodegradable but they are not. They are made of a plastic called cellulose acetate which takes decades to degrade.
Cigarettes are the most littered item in America and in the world. So it wasn’t surprising, that data collected from our voluntary groups adopting roadsides and streams under the KASB Program, determined that cigarettes are the most littered item here in the territory. Cigarette butts make up about 20% among all litter collected during our KASB program’s roadside and stream cleanups.
To bring a strong focus, debate and action to the issue of cigarette butt littering, the AS-EPA, as part of the KASB, has designated the months of February and March to highlight this growing problem. AS-EPA is asking the public to please place your cigarette butts in the trash instead of on the ground. Help us Keep American Samoa Beautiful for our future generations to come. Let’s hope this initiative will get people talking about cigarette butts and cause smokers to think twice before flicking their next butt. “Not Cool!”
For more information on what you can do to help put a stop to littering, please call AS-EPA’s Solid Waste Branch at 633-2304.
Source: American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency