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Task Force to Fight Cigarette Litter in Lexington

By Brenna Angel

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Members of the recently formed Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission want to tackle cigarette butts in the group's first major project. The commission detailed plans to form a cigarette litter task force at a meeting Thursday.

Commission chair Patricia Knight wants to see a group of 15-20 people appointed by the end of the month.

"The goals of the task force will be to reduce the amount of cigarette litter on the streets currently as well as keep it off in the future. As part of our initiatives we'll be distributing pocket ash trays and informational literature."

The Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission was established last fall through a city ordinance. Knight says tackling cigarette butts on the ground is a priority.

"Cigarette litter goes into the streets and then when it rains those cigarette butts go into the water system and eventually make themselves out into the streams. They cause a lot of problems along the way that are very expensive problems for us to clean up."

Once the task force is organized, members will identify target areas around Lexington. Mark York, who represents Lexington's Division of Environmental Policy, says the program's message will be positive.

"We understand smoking is a choice. We're not trying to get people to stop smoking. The message is if you are a smoker, we'd like for you to dispose of your waste material in an environmentally responsible manner so it doesn't end up on the ground and gets washed into a storm drain and into a creek or stream."

York says target areas for the cigarette litter project will likely include hospitals and large businesses or campuses.