Letter to the Editor: Put Out Out Your Cigarettes!

Dear Students,

Many students at the University of Tampa walk around campus smoking cigarettes every day. On any given day, at least one student drops a cigarette butt on the ground rather than disposing of it in a proper receptacle.

Fifteen years from that day, that same student will most likely have a job and may even be raising his or her own family. If that same student revisited campus 15 years later, he or she would be able to see the cigarette butt they dropped on campus finally starting to decompose.

Smokers on campus need to dispose of their cigarette butts in the proper trash receptacles to prevent cigarette litter from not only being an eye sore, but also to prevent harming the people and animals who live in the same environment.

As students, many of us walk through campus and see cigarette litter on the ground and just assume that it will decompose or someone else will pick it up, just as the janitors hired by our school do. However, the people who clean our campus will probably not be able to pick up every cigarette but and cigarettes do not decompose quickly.

The massive amounts of accumulated cigarette butt litter can quickly become noticeable to non-smokers walking through campus. The accumulation may also catch the attention of visitors and future students, which does not give the impression of a clean campus and may even dissuade some students from attending the university.

I interviewed a few smokers to find out why they chose the ground rather than the receptacles to dispose of their cigarettes, an many replied by stating that they do not pay attention to where they dispose of their cigarette butts. If smokers took an extra few seconds out of their lives to dispose of their cigarette butts in receptacles it would prevent an eyesore as well as the accumulation in litter.

Not only are cigarettes a blot on the landscape to the people who take the time to notice, but cigarette butts also pose an environmental health hazard to animals since they contain tar, nicotine, and toxic gases. According to CigaretteLitter.org, an organization specifically dedicated to attempt to reduce the amount of cigarette litter, cigarette butts have been found in many marine animals and sea bird, which often leads to the death of these animals.

Students who are smokers have probably never thought that by littering a cigarette they could be killing a marine animal or bird. However, it is the reality. It is more crucial than it would be at other campuses for students at the University of Tampa to dispose of cigarette butts correctly because we are located near a body water that leads to the ocean where marine animals reside.

Students who are smokers at the University of Tampa who litter cigarette butts cause harm not only to animals, but to people as well. The National Capital Poison Center declared that if a toddler ingests three or more cigarette butts it can cause serious illness and even be fatal.

This may sound like an outrageous fact that could never happen, but it often does occur due to toddler’s brains being not fully developed and the fact that they don’t know any better. Although we live on a college campus, some college students do have children and parents often bring toddlers along when their son or daughter takes a tour of the campus.

A majority of the time, the parents cannot keep an eye on their toddler at every moment and all it takes is a matter of seconds for a toddler to pick a cigarette butt up off the ground and put the litter into his or her mouth. Throwing away cigarette butts in the proper receptacles can help prevent the problem of toddlers ingesting cigarette butts and make our campus a safe place to bring little ones.

As students, many of us should want to enjoy a clean campus that is cigarette butt free. We should value our campus enough to be able to ask our friends who smoke to not throw cigarette butts on the ground, as well as inform them of the harmful risks that may occur when a cigarette butt is littered.

As students we could also push for security to give fines to people who litter on campus which would hopefully prevent people from throwing their cigarette butts on the ground. We could demand that more trash receptacles be placed around campus so smokers have more places to throw away their cigarette butts. By doing even a few of these actions, it may prevent our campus from being an eyesore and benefit everyone who lives in our environment.


Nicole Gauthier

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