Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH|
For Further Information Contact:
NEW JERSEY REBEL BEACH PATROL TACKLES TOBACCO LITTER ON "BUST YOUR BUTTS ON THE BEACH" DAY
New Jersey's Youth Anti-tobacco Movement Takes Positive Steps to Combat Environmental Damage Caused by Tossed Cigarette Butts
More than 550 members of New Jersey's youth anti-tobacco movement known as REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies) came out to clean up cigarette butts and other litter along the New Jersey shore along with state and local officials.
"My thanks to all the young people who came out to our beaches - all in the name of taking a stand on the importance of the environmental damage caused by cigarettes," said Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco. "It is encouraging to see our youth take up the important issue of not smoking from a health standpoint as well as for environmental reasons. New Jersey has 127 miles of beautiful beaches from Cape May to Sandy Hook and while litter from cigarettes are not welcome, residents and visitors very much are."
The Beach Butts Clean-up, sponsored by the New Jersey Department of
Health and Senior Services (DHSS), gave the REBEL Beach Patrol an opportunity
to call attention to the long-lasting problems associated with cigarette
butts, by far the most prevalent form of litter on New Jersey beaches.
Currently, Belmar is the only New Jersey shore community to pass legislation that designates non-smoking areas on its beach.
"Cigarette butts can be harmful to wildlife as they are made of
a form of plastic and do not degrade. Sea animals and birds can mistake
the filters for food, and accidentally eat them," said Bob Shinn,
Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Data collected during the Beach Butts Clean-up will be added to data collected
by DEP's Adopt-A-Beach volunteers who have been conducting beach clean-ups
"We think people who visit the shore, deserve beaches that are
clean and safe," said Chris Fricke, 16, of Wantage. "I wouldn't
want to think of a small child picking up a butt and trying to eat it."
"We hope communities can use the information we gather to encourage
visitors to keep beaches clean at all times," added Lauren Pilstra,
16, of Hawthorne.
Among New Jersey smokers, one third will die prematurely from smoking-related
diseases. REBEL's mission is to successfully break this cycle and eliminate
the single most preventable cause of death and disease in New Jersey.
According to recent surveys conducted by DHSS, nearly 27.6 percent of
high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students had
smoked cigarettes in the last month. Preventing teens from starting
to smoke is important, since more than 80 percent of adults who smoke
had their first cigarette before they turned 18.
# # #