News and Events

Tobacco Free Events and Recreational Areas
March 20, 2018

Why is it important to create tobacco free recreational areas and events in Columbia County? There are several reasons, starting with the environmental impacts of tobacco litter as cigarette butts are the most literred item in the world.

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.  Many people tend to think of tobacco in terms of secondhand smoke, which is important to be sure, but it is not often that the impact of those cigarette butts, e-cigarette waste, snuff and snus pouches, and other tobacco residue is actually having on natural areas and wildlife when people use them in natural settings.

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 actually thrown away or put into ashtrays (2).

Did you know that 44.6% of Columbia County students ages 11-17 say they are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke? Did you know that 24.0% of Columbia County students say they have tried any type of tobacco (cigarettes, smokeless, or cigars)? (Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 2016).

We can protect our youth from ever starting by creating tobacco free social norms. Youth who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become addicted to other tobacco products, like cigarettes. Many young men can even view smokeless tobacco use as a rite of passage. You don't have to accept tobacco use as part of life in your community. Our community can set a strong example by creating tobacco free recreational areas and events! For more information about creating tobacco free events or facilities, or for information about the Tobacco Free Partnership call 352-316-2463 or email



  2. Ibid.