It takes a spot of courage to stand up tall and a bit of derring-do to rise when you fall

Monday, November 21, 2005

Give A Hoot.....Don't Pollute

I don't mean to offend anyone---that certainly isn't my aim at all, and so I hope that I don't. If you're a smoker, don't snarl at me here. But today I was reminded yet again of something that really bugs me: Why do smokers think it's okay to throw their cigarettes out of their car window? Why is this not litter? Would they also throw their fast food (or other) wrappers out of the window? And if not, why is a cigarette different?

I'm following a Volvo SUV today with a smart- (as in fashionable) looking youngish woman driving. I can see her in her rear-view mirror. We're waiting at a light, and I'm not paying too much attention to anything when suddenly, out sails her cigarette onto the pavement, still smoking away. I look at it lying there on the ground, and my opinion (subconsciously formed) of this nice-looking, young, possible executive takes a huge dive. I am so tempted to get out of my car, pick it up (ew!) and hand it back to the woman: "Excuse me, ma'am, you dropped something." I have actually done versions of this a time or two and have always been met with disgusted sneers. Surprise, surprise.

I live in California where a person pretty much can't smoke anywhere. Not being a smoker, I haven't thought very long or very deeply (okay, not at all) about smoker's rights. But I'm not sorry to be able to go into a restaurant and breathe freely. I know people---my brother being one of them---where just the smell of cigarette smoke brings on terrible migraines. And there's no such thing as a No Smoking area. The smoke just doesn't get it. It refuses to be trained to not go past the little sign. That's like having a No Peeing section of the swimming pool. How many people do you think would be swimming in that pool? Because I bet pee hasn't learned any better than smoke how to stay on its own side.

The pros and cons of smoking is not really the issue here, not what I meant to address. Mostly it's this practice of throwing cigarettes on the ground, in parking lots, onto sidewalks, in the park. No place is off-limits apparently. This past summer we were camping at a beautiful spot of earth, Mammoth Lakes. We pitched our tent right next to the rushing creek/river. The trees surrounded our little campsite and kept us feeling like we were the only ones around. It was gorgeous. One morning I went exploring along the river's edge where we would occasionally see someone fishing. As I sat there on a rock, watching the water, I happened to look down. And what do I see? A cigarette. It looked grotesque somehow to me, sitting there marring the perfection of nature all around me. I would have felt the same about a wadded up bunch of garbage. Because that's what it was: garbage. It was garbage there, uglifying the place, and it's garbage when it's thrown onto a street or the sidewalk or wherever.

So I ask again: why is this not litter? I really actually am curious.


Blogger Michelle said...

Down Under it is! If you get caught throwing them out your car window or dropping them on the ground you get an on the spot fine! Around $100. I am the worst in the world as i am a reformed smoker of 10 years, i hate it. It is also against the law to smoke in restaurants here and the work place, even in parks and gardens!

10:32 PM, November 21, 2005

Blogger bryan torre said...

I too find the butt-out-the-window thing annoying. It seems such an obvious indicator that the person has no understanding of their place in -- or sense of obligation to -- the society in which they live.
It immediately labels them as User/Taker/Destroyer rather than Helper/Giver/Builder; and I think we have an instinctive dislike of people in that category. I feel like it's something visceral, some kind of genetic memory or tribal instinct from thousands of years of learning what contributes to our survival and what doesn't...

12:54 AM, November 22, 2005

Blogger DDM said...

Oy. I have so much to say on this subject, I might just blog it in a few days. YES it's littering. I use the 'peeing section of a pool' analogy all the time when I'm on my soapbox. LOVED that you used it here. I really will talk more about it later. Right now I'm zsvdkc and must go to bed. OH! My state just passed the anti smoking initiative WOOHOOO! GONE are the days of meeting friends for drinks in bars, and having to come home and shower because we smell like stale smoke.

12:17 AM, November 23, 2005


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