Celebrities Say Our Planet is Not an Ashtray

In time for Earth Day 2011, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, musicians Ziggy Marley and Michael Franti and comedian Andy Dick, amongst other well known actors, musicians and athletes are raising awareness of the high cost tobacco-related litter takes on our planet.

Legacy, the national public health foundation known for its truth youth smoking prevention campaign, is working to call attention to the toxic toll discarded cigarette butts take every day on our already-taxed natural environment.

More than 360 billion cigarettes are smoked in the United States on an annual basis. This massive amount begs the question: where do all those cigarette butts go?

[ Also Read: Smoking in Pregnancy Risky for Infants ]

According to environmental cleanup reports, butts and filters pollute beaches, parks, roads and waterways worldwide.

Nearly two million cigarettes or cigarette filters/butts were picked up internationally from beaches and inland waterways as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 2010.

This number includes more than one million from the United States alone — making cigarette butts the No. 1 littered item in the U.S.

[ Also Read: Let Us Breathe Smoke-Free Air ]

Via a new, sharable video, Legacy draws a parallel between the commonplace act of flicking cigarette butts and throwing out trash – urging smokers to think twice before tossing a toxic cigarette butt on the ground.

New research, funded by Legacy and released on April 19th, proves that cigarette butts have potentially toxic effects on ecosystems. For example, in one laboratory test, one cigarette butt soaked in a liter of water was lethal to half of the fish exposed.

[ Also Read: Celebs Join Hands to Combat Hunger in the U.S. ]

Some well-known faces, like Tony Hawk and Michael Franti, among others – bring attention to the fact that cigarette butts are frequently and unthinkingly flicked from cars, tossed on sidewalks and streets and left behind in the outdoors. 

In the video, the celebrity participants put their spin on this issue by drawing parallels between the activities that made them famous and the discarding of everyday items – items like water bottles, CD cases, paper cups and magazines.

[ Also Read: Microsoft Going Green with Recycled Paper ]

“It’s possible that smokers think that because tobacco is organic, the filter is harmless. However, that’s not the case. Both the plastic filters and the remnants of the tobacco are poisonous to children and other living organisms. They contain nicotine, heavy metals and other toxic compounds,” said Cheryl G. Healton, president and CEO of Legacy.

“Smokers can help save the environment by taking the simple yet effective step of properly disposing of cigarettes, and not littering cigarette butts in the first place.”

Other celebrities featured in the video include: actress Austin Highsmith, Drew Carey Show’s Diedrich Bader, Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch and musician Mike Schleibaum of the band Darkest Hour.

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