Taken from the Surfrider Foundation's Support Smoke-Free Wrightsville Beach Campaign:
- Cigarette butts are the most littered item on Wrightsville Beach and the world. Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate-- a type of plastic-- and are NOT biodegradable. Designed to trap toxins from smoking, the filters contain upwards of 400 different highly toxic chemicals that can leach into our environment. Worldwide, it is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control, less than 20% of the US population over 18 are smokers.
- Littered cigarette butts are dangerous to children and wildlife. Small children are at risk of swallowing, choking, or burning themselves with discarded butts and poisoning themselves with the drug nicotine. The filters contain small plastic pieces that can interfere with the digestion of food if swallowed by wildlife, often causing birds and marine life to become sick and/or starve.
- Children model adult behavior and benefit from positive models of non-smoking behavior and positive reinforcement of healthy lifestyle messages through exposure to smoke-free and tobacco free public areas.
- Each year, in North Carolina, nearly 24,000 children under 18 begin smoking. Since our youth are major users of Wrightsville Beach, the banning of tobacco use will create one more place where children will not be influenced by seeing adults who use tobacco.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified secondhand smoke as a class A carcinogen – a substance known to cause cancer in humans. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that breathing even a little secondhand smoke poses a risk to your health. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from upper respiratory and ear infections. It is especially dangerous for children and adults with asthma and other chronic conditions.
For these reasons I encourage and support the Town of Wrightsville Beach and the elected Board of Alderman to pass law making the Wrightsville Beach strand a smoke-free beach. Our children and wildlife deserve a clean and healthy place to grow, play and live.
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