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I am really sick and tired of being forced off the sidewalk on University Avenue each morning as I make my way to class to avoid the smokers outside the IWK and Victoria General Hospitals. These inconsiderate individuals continue to take up half the sidewalk and create discomfort for passer bys as they succumb to their disgusting habit. To add to this fury, anyone looking down at the ground to hide their face and avoid the toxic smoke become even more infuriated by the sheer number of cigarette butts coating the city streets and green spaces throughout the city.

It can take up to 12 years for cigarette butts to completely break down and in doing so chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic can leach into our marine environment. Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds and other marine animals, causing ingestion of hazardous chemicals and digestive blockages. With recent bans on indoor smoking and limited outdoor public smoking areas, cigarette butt litter is dramatically on the rise. However, by placing cigarette litter bins near public buildings, this encourages the smoker to be closer to the public buildings which, in turn is breaking provincial and municipal bylaws and inflicting secondhand smoke on innocent bystanders.

What is the solution here? It’s a disgrace to see our city streets and green spaces littered with such harmful, disgusting pieces of trash. Perhaps we should follow the example taken by the government in Nairobi and its successful prohibition of smoking in ALL public spaces.

By Julia Keech

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