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- Culver City Times on 12/6/2013
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Smokers

"Considerate smokers don't litter. Those who do deserve criticism as much as any other litterer."
-- SmokingSection.Com (Militant Smoker's Rights Group)

The battle against cigarette litter can only be won if smokers join the fight on the right side. There are already millions of smokers who don't litter their cigarettes, and many of them are actively spreading the word to fellow smokers. Unfortunately, they are still a small minority. If you are a considerate smoker who doesn't litter, THANK YOU! Please continue setting a positive example and please continue to help us in any way that you can.

If you are a smoker who does litter, we hope that you will learn about the impact of your actions and break the habit. Think about why you litter and think about whether those reasons really make sense to you. Chances are, you have used one or more of the following rationales for your behavior:

We ask you to consider our counter arguments to the above points to see if we can get you to change your mind. Our opinion is that there is no excuse for littering, but we also think the best way to communicate with people who have opposing viewpoints is to keep an open mind and maintain two way communications. In the meantime, here is how we feel:

They are biodegradable.

NO THEY ARE NOT! Sorry for the all-caps, but this is a gigantic myth. Different groups have done different studies and their results differ, with some people saying cigarettes decompose in a year, some saying it takes twelve years, and others saying they never decompose at all (the filters are made of a type of acetate that never fully breaks down). That is not what people mean when they use the word biodegradable. Rather than get into a scientific argument, we ask smokers who litter to use common sense. Ask yourself if the cigarette you throw down is going to disappear anytime soon. Do your own experiment. Put a cigarrete in an outdoor planter (use a string or pin to secure it), and see how long it stays there. We guarantee it will be a long term experiment! However long you finally decide it takes for a cigarette to decompose, ask yourself if you would like all such "biodegradable" items to be thrown on the ground, such as cardboard containers, newspapers, kleenex, paper grocery bags, etc. It wouldn't be pretty.

What else am I supposed to do with them?

There are many ways to dispose of cigarettes without littering them on the ground. Free personal ashtrays can be obtained by clicking here. These ashtrays are paper thin and will easily fit in your pocket. They are foil lined, trap the smell inside, and take up less space in your pocket or purse than a pack of cigarettes. If for some reason you donít want to carry around disposable ashtrays, then you can improvise which such things as film containers, metal mint containers, regular tin foil, or anything else thatís handy. Simply store your butt in one of these temporary ashtrays until you can dispose of it properly. If you do not have a container handy, stub out your cigarette when you are finished, making ABSOLUTELY sure it is out and that there is no burning paper or tobacco, and throw it in the nearest trash can. There is significantly less risk of fire using this method than there is from throwing your smoldering cigarette in the street or on the sidewalk, where it can easily blow into flammable material. A note to motorists Ė please use your car ashtray! If it is OK to put in your mouth, it is OK to put in your ashtray.

It is harmless, it is just a small cigarette butt.

Of course, this is the same argument that leads to lots of "harmless" little things adding up to very harmful big things. Cigarettes are by far the most littered item in the world. Billions of cigarettes are littered every day. Costly, and often deadly, fires are caused every year by littered cigarettes and the environmental impact is significant. When you throw even one cigarette, you are part of the problem.

It serves everybody right for making me smoke outside and taxing my cigarettes.

We don't want to get into any smoking issues unrelated to litter. We will say that we think littering is a very short-sighted and ineffective way to get your message across. Smokers who litter give a bad name to all smokers and make non-smoking activists even more dedicated to increasing smoking bans and raising taxes. Several universities have recently banned smoking on campus not because of health issues but because of litter issues. In these cases, considerate smokers lost out because of the behavior of their littering counterparts.

Everybody else does it.

This excuse hasn't worked since kindergarten.

Everybody has a vice, this is mine.

That's true. Many of us speed, jaywalk, use pirated software - you name it. If we all decide that none of us will change our ways until every last one of our friends and neighbors is perfect, then we can all look forward to some dismal times, and none of us should be complaining about it. Or, we can be our own judges of what we think is right and act accordingly. If you think jaywalking is wrong - don't do it! But don't use the fact that other people are doing it to justify behavior that you know is wrong. If you think littering is wrong - don't do it!


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