Depending on the severity of the circumstances, an officer may issue an $81 fine under the Motor Vehicle Act for littering or a $575 fine under the B.C. Wildfire Act for the mishandling of a burning substance in or within one kilometre of a forest or grassy area. Victoria cigarette butts Sept. 2, 2020 (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

LETTER – Discarded cigarette butts are more than just litter – they could be toxic to animals

Dear editor,

Dear editor,

I live and walk in the Crown Isle area. I am disgusted daily by the amount of cigarette butts left on the sidewalks and roads.

I don’t dislike people who smoke, but I do dislike their disgusting habit of dropping their butts for others to deal with. The butts get washed into the storm drains and then the fish die from eating them.

Another more serious issue is the poisoning of animals/birds that can happen while the hundreds of dogs in the area are walked two to four times a day. An owner cannot always notice when a dog quickly grabs a discarded butt and instantly gulps it down.

According to links on the internet, nicotine poisoning in pets has a rapid onset of symptoms – generally within 15 to 60 minutes following ingestion. Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma, and cardiac arrest.

Depending on how much nicotine is ingested, severe poisoning can be seen in dogs. Clinical signs of nicotine poisoning can be seen within several minutes; they can last for one to two hours (in mild cases) or 18-24 hours (in severe cases). Cigarette butts contain from 2-8 mg. of nicotine, depending on the brand. When dogs ingest nicotine, toxicity begins at 0.5 mg nicotine per pound of body weight. The lethal dose is 4 mg. per pound. Therefore, a typical Jack Russell terrier of 10 to 15 pounds could be in trouble after eating a single cigarette butt.

It’s wise if your dog has ingested a cigarette butt (or you think he may have) to call your vet or take your dog to an emergency pet clinic.

And dog owners, please take home your dog’s dirty poop bags.

Jill Ackerman,

Courtenay

Comox Valley Record

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