News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership Participates in Gilchrist County Tobacco Litter Clean up
November 19, 2016

The Tobacco Free Partnership has been working hard in the community over the past few months. 

In November, members participated in the Suwannee River Clean Up which was organized through the Gilchrist County Chamber of Commerce. After reading a recent article on the negative environmental impact of tobacco waste in the QuitDoc Foundation quarterly newsletter, the Partnership was invited to participate in the event to educate community members about the issue as well as to clean up the tobacco waste.  Along with other clean-up gear such as gloves, participants were asked to place tobacco trash in disposable quart-sized bags which included facts about tobacco waste being the number one pollution on beaches and waterways around the world.

The clean-up began at the Hart Springs boat ramp, and it did not take long for lots of tobacco waste to be discovered. Community members found not only cigarette butts, but sometimes nearly full packs of unused cigarettes had been discarded at the riverside. Cigar filter tips, some with pieces of cigar still attached, and cigar wrappers were also littered around the Suwannee River.  These are obviously made of plastic, and have no chance of decomposing in the natural environment for dozens, if not hundreds, of years to come.  Several containers from smokeless tobacco products were also found at the water’s edge. All of these remnants undoubtedly left hazardous nicotine in the environment which has been shown to harm all kinds of aquatic wildlife.

This experience taught us several things in Gilchrist County. First, we learned that all kinds of tobacco litter impacts our precious environment, including the Suwannee River and the Hart Springs region. Second, we learned that the kind of tobacco trash left near our waterways is not limited to just cigarette butts, but it includes things like plastic filters, wrappers and packs, and even tobacco cans. Third, we learned that it is important to get the word out to the community about the importance of reducing and eliminating tobacco trash in our valued environment. People in Gilchrist County, and even tourists from around the world, enjoy our springs and rivers which are the heart of our outdoor experience. Now that we see the real litter that is surrounding our river and recreation areas, perhaps it is time to consider ways to keep that trash from ever finding its way into the environment in the first place.

If you are concerned about this issue and want to get involved, please contact Tracy DeCubellis at or see our Tobacco Free Partnership website.