Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Toxic Litter

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Toxic Litter

When is the city leadership going to crack down on cigarette butt littering in Alexandria? Dropping a cigarette butt in Alexandria according to state law is a misdemeanor crime that can get a person 12 months in jail as well as a $2500 fine. Cigarette butts are the single most littered item in the world surpassing plastic bottles in numbers.

It’s estimated that 180 billion cigarette butts are discarded to the environment worldwide each year. A casual stroll down any street in Old Town will show the acute observer that there is a whole lot of crime occurring in this beautiful city that is not being addressed. The crime of discarding your spent cigarettes butt on the streets of Old Town is not a victimless crime. Cigarette butts are now classified as toxic waste and are made of non-biodegradable material. There is enough nicotine in 200 cigarette butts to kill a human being.

Most human are too intelligent to consume cigarette butts as food, but our local wildlife is not. All too often wildlife will eat cigarette butts mistaking it for food. A cigarette butt discarded in Old Town has a very good chance of making it too the Potomac river when it rains due to Old Town’s 1800’s vintage sewer system. If a cigarette butt makes it to the Potomac river it will likely flow down into the Chesapeake Bay where it will either be eaten by marine life or settle on the bottom of one of the most bountiful bays on this planet, slowly decomposing its nicotine.

Last year according to public records, our Police Department issued the grand total of four tickets for littering, Arlington did a little better. The city must do more to educate people who still smoke that littering is not acceptable and if person who smokes on the street and continues to litter may end up being fined.

Dan Lynch