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Group pushing the province to take action on cigarette litter

A man puts out a cigarette in Ottawa on Sept. 29, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

A group is pushing the province to tighten up littering laws to target smokers who stamp out on the sidewalk.

Sheila White and Alex King of the Litter Prevention Program hauled tens of thousands of cigarette butts to Queen’s Park on Friday to demonstrate how just how many filters one smoker discards in a lifetime.

The 11 a.m. news conference was held days ahead of a Jan. 20 deadline for the province to decide whether to review its approach to litter, the group says.

A representative from TerraCycle, a company that turns butts into plastic pallets for industrial use, will also be at the event.

According to the city’s solid waste management division, cigarette filters take up to 12 years to break down.

A 2012 Toronto Streets Litter Audit showed littering continued to decline last year — a 21 per cent reduction from 2006. But that study showed cigarette butts made up the largest percentage — 31.3 — of “small litter” items surveyed. Small litter items include plastic straws, bottle caps, gum, and candy wrappers.