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2002 News from Mecklenburg County
  May 1, 2002



  Charlotte, NC – About 4.5 TRILLION cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year.  That’s a lot of butts on our sidewalks, lawns, nature trails, gardens and other public places.  Cigarettes are the most littered item in Mecklenburg County, often by people who would never even consider littering otherwise. 

Cigarette butts are the cornerstones of a three-month litter awareness and education campaign.  LITTER: IT’S IN YOUR HANDS is sponsored by Mecklenburg County Solid Waste Management. 

As part of the campaign, Solid Waste Management is offering portable ashtrays to all Mecklenburg County smokers.   Each ashtray is an aluminum foil pouch that can easily fit into your pocket or purse.  Portable ashtrays will be distributed at a variety of public events, such as Speed Street, Cinco de Mayo festivals and others.  A portable ashtray can also be obtained by calling 704-336-4279 and leaving your name and address. 

Cigarette filters are designed to capture toxic chemicals.  But when discarded improperly, the filters wash into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals leak out and threaten aquatic ecosystems and groundwater.  “Cigarette butts are very small and, compared to other types of litter, very difficult to clean up,” says Brenda Barger, Mecklenburg County’s Litter Prevention Coordinator.  “If they aren’t cleaned up, they can have a long-lasting, negative impact on the environment.” 

The LITTER: IT’S IN YOUR HANDS campaign will also work to educate Mecklenburg County residents on a variety of litter prevention initiatives: 

· Adopt-A-Highway: Families and groups can keep a section of roadside litter-free.

· Swat-A-Litterbug: If you see a litterbug, turn him in!

· New N.C. laws targeting cigarette litter and  “unintentional” littering.

· Education in public and private schools.

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