Recently, Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) from Jim Thorpe and Weatherly High Schools observed Earth Day by cleaning-up tobacco litter along Broadway in Jim Thorpe.

It took just one hour to fill a gallon-size jar with hundreds of cigarette butts.

It's a sad indictment that cigarette smokers are the biggest culprits of unconscious littering. Go to any park, beach, hiking trail, or virtually anywhere and one thing you're sure to find are cigarette butts.

People don't dirty the ash trays in their cars anymore. They just flip the lit cigarettes out the windows with little regard for the environment.

And, we have yet to see a fine imposed against a cigarette smoker for littering - even though that's exactly what it is.

On playgrounds, you'll find cigarette butts next to park benches, ground into walkways, and even in sand boxes.

It's not uncommon to drive down the highway and see the flick of a cigarette from a window in the car in front of you.

Many of these same people would never toss other garbage from their car window. Yet, this is exactly what they are doing - tossing garbage.

Ask anyone who has participated in the clean-up along highways and they'll tell you that cigarette butts are among the most common types of litter.

Members of TATU showed just how much of a problem littering is by cigarette smokers. The gallon jar filled with butts in only an hour is disgusting.

Maybe a campaign should occur reminding smokers that tossing cigarette butts to the ground is littering. Maybe signs could be placed along highways and in locations like parks, walking trails, and downtown Jim Thorpe reminding people that this is a form of littering.

It's also a bad example to young people and an infringement on those who try to keep their properties looking neat.

If you have to smoke, that's your business. Tossing butts to the ground is everybody's business.

Hopefully, some day every municipality will ban smoking at playgrounds.

Cars have ash trays for a reason.

Maybe eventually we will see littering fines imposed for tossing cigarette butts out car windows and randomly to the ground. Certainly such a penalty is warranted.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com