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The Chicago Traveler

Kicking Butts at the Lake

by Matt B on June 19th, 2008

chicago beach

Summer's here and more and more people are visiting Chicago's beaches along Lake Michigan. Now is a good time to remind everyone that the city will issue $500 tickets to anyone caught smoking on public beaches. Too many people leave their butts in the sand and pollute the water.

According to the Chicago Tribune, cigarette butts take somewhere between 10 and 15 years to turn into a fine powder:

Yet butts don’t biodegrade, they only break down. The distinction is important to environmentalists, who say butts end up as a plastic residue that stays in ecosystems for decades. A substance that biodegrades, by contrast, is usually organic: plant or animal matter neutralized by enzymes or sunlight.

The bottom line: Old cigarette butts only get diluted or buried. They never truly vanish.

The law isn't anti-smoking; it's anti-litter. After all, millions of kids play in the sand along the lakefront, and the last thing any of us want is to have them finding pieces of tobacco trash. Unfortunately, the majority of smokers don't dispose their butts properly in a trash bin, so this ban may be the only way to ensure that the beaches stay clean.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) lapstrake (on vacation)

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POSTED IN: News, Sports and Recreation, Uncategorized

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