Mike Anderson, the acting superintendent of the VI National Park is thinking about prohibiting smoking on the park's beaches, picnic areas and the bathrooms. He is asking for comments. Email [email protected] before Jan. 28.
It's not the health risks humans run when smoking that prompt the Park to consider the ban. It's because of the debris smokers leave behind: butts, cellulose filters, cellophane, and packaging materials which can damage the environment and threaten ocean waters and marine life.
Anderson told the St. John Source research shows it can take as long as 25 years for a cigarette butt to degrade, and toxic chemical compounds leach into the environment.
While banning smoking is being considered, the Park plans to install containers for cigarette butts at Trunk and Hawksnesst beaches so smokers can 'can' cigarettes before they get on the beach.
The National Park Service banned smoking in its buildings in 2005 and authorized park superintendents, in 2009, to prohibit smoking "to protect park resources … (and) prevent conflicts among visitor use activities."