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4.5 Trillion Cigarette Butts Littered A Year

Last updated on Saturday, April 21, 2012

(TERRE HAUTE) - Every year trillions of cigarettes, filled with harmful chemicals, litter the streets.

Brittany Earl, of WTHI reports, cigarettes butts are the single most littered item in the United States, having 4.5 trillion littered world-wide every year and will not be biodegrading anytime soon.

It takes about one and a half years for butts to break down.

Sydney Elliott, Health Educator with the Vigo County Health Department said the toxic chemicals inside a cigarette butt add up.

"Don't just throw them out the window or on the ground because that really is a health hazard and people who don't smoke, don't want to have to breathe in those chemicals and get sick later on," said Elliott.

Every cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals, meaning every second that a butt is left burning, dangerous toxins escape into the environment.

Cigarette butt littering isn't just bad for the environment, it's also bad for a smoker's wallet.

According to the state of Indiana, if a person litters a cigarette butt, they could face a fine of up to a $1,000.

Elliott said, "There's ways to dispose of them legally, by putting them in an ash tray or if you're out in public, if there's a place to dispose of them outside, do that."
Elliott warned people that the amount of time it takes for a cigarette butt to break down also depends on their environment.

For more information about chemicals involved in cigarette butt filters check out the QuitSmoking website.

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