News and Events

Promoting Tobacco-Free Environments in Clay County
March 8, 2019

Why is it important to create tobacco free recreational areas and events in Clay County? There are several reasons, starting with the environmental impacts of tobacco litter as cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world. Not only do tobacco products devastate the human body, they cause havoc on the environment–ending up in our waterways, along beaches and in our parks. Cigarette butts account for an extraordinary amount of waste. An estimated 1.69 billion pounds, or 845,000 tons, of cigarette butts accumulate as litter in lakes, in oceans, on beaches and on the rest of the planet annually.

Around the United States, many recreation areas such as beaches, parks, and other nature and recreational areas have attempted to stem the tide of environmental damage caused by tobacco waste by creating tobacco free areas.  Although, most feel that this initiative is only to address the negative affects of secondhand smoke, it is imperative to understand the negative affects associated with our environment.

It is a well-known fact that tobacco products contain a variety of toxins like nicotine, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, arsenic, and a variety of other chemicals. They do not disappear when someone is finished using a tobacco product and they throw it on the ground. Instead, the toxins that remain in the product are deposited on the ground.  Did you know that cigarette butts are not biodegradable? All of those cigarette butts that are thrown on the ground stay there, polluting the environment. The sad fact is that cigarette butts are the number one source of beach pollution around the world (1). In fact, only about 10% of all cigarette butts are thrown away or put into ashtrays.  Not only does cigarette litter impact our natural environments, it contaminates and harms the ecosystems within those environments. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food, swallowing poisonous filters, harmful plastic and toxic chemicals (2).

Did you know that 57.5% of Clay County students ages 11-17 say they are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke? Did you know that 31.2% of Columbia County students say they have tried any type of tobacco (cigarettes, smokeless, electronic or cigars)? (Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 2018).

We can protect our youth from ever starting by creating tobacco free social norms. All Americans deserve to live, work, study and play in smoke-free environments. By implementing laws and policies to make our communities smoke-free, we can:

Reduce death and diseases associated with secondhand smoke 

Our community can set a strong example by creating tobacco free environments and events! For more information about creating tobacco free events or facilities, or for information about the Tobacco Free Partnership of Clay County call 904.703.5445 or email