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      Cigarette butts add toxins to Lake Superior

      The Facebook Friday story for August 2, 2013 is about cigarette butts and the impact cigaratte litter has on the environment.

      With 9.8 million people living in the state, the Michigan Department of Community Health found 23 percent of the adult population smokes.

      "If you look around here, you don't see cigarette butts here. It's because there are no storm drains here. We're here at Presque Isle, but if you go into town, like McCarty's Cove where the storm drains come in, that's where you'll see the cigarette butts," said Natasha Koss, program manager for the Superior Watershed Partnership.

      When cigarettes are not disposed of properly, heavy rain can wash them into storm drains leading directly into Lake Superior.

      "Those filters actually do give off toxic chemicals, that's the first problem. The second problem is the cigarette butts can get caught in fish stomachs and other organisms that eat things out of the water," Koss said.

      Studies have found it can take up to 10 years for cigarettes butts to degrade. In the city of Marquette, littering can cost you.

      "There's a city ordinance and there's a $50 fine for the first offense. It's important not to litter anything, specifically cigarette butts," said Officer John Waldo, Marquette Police Department.

      On the TV6 and FOX UP Facebook Page, Rena Yelle said, "As a smoker myself, it really is disgusting to walk the trails and beaches and see this. Can't you butt them out and stick them in your pocket to throw in the trash bin?"

      The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) started multiple campaigns to bring more awareness to cigarette litter.

      "The 'Red Bucket Campaign' was to actually provide an opportunity for people to dispose of their cigarettes properly. Now that's not from their car, of course, but when they're walking downtown," Koss said.

      SWP also implemented beach cleanups and offers a mini grant program which provides funding to non-profits and groups interested in removing litter from local beaches. Click here for more information.