09/06/2016 3:07 PM AEST | Updated 21/12/2016 4:00 PM AEDT

I Wish Smoking Was Just Your Problem. Butt It's Not

If I threw my empty bottle of whatever on the ground, trod on it and walked off, would you think that was odd? If yes, then what's the difference?

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Smokers should and shouldn't give a toss.

Dear smokers,

I know you and I don't get along that well.

But I'd like to ask you some genuine questions, from someone who has never had a cigarette.

Why do you throw your cigarette butts on the ground? (#notallsmokers)

I know you very thoughtfully then stamp on it, grind it into the footpath/road/grass/beach in case a random passerby treads on it and bursts into flames, thanks for that. But (pun intended) why don't you pick it up?

Congratulations. You are adding to the several trillion cigarette butts discarded each year.

If I threw my empty bottle of whatever on the ground, trod on it and walked off, would you think that was odd? If yes, then what's the difference?

But what am I supposed to do with it, you ask.

Good question. That is your problem. You're the one who is smoking. Find an ashtray, a garbage bin or put it in your pocket. However, when you're throwing it on the street/beach/in a pot plant/garden/drain or wherever, like everything else with your smoking, including the disgusting smell, risk of cancer etc, it becomes my problem.

The street is the worst option. Street = drain = harbour or beach or river, causing damage to marine life for the simple fact butts are obviously not biodegradable. Surprisingly, they don't magically evaporate in water -- in fact, all that lovely cadmium, lead and arsenic leaches into our environment. They also don't evaporate in air, evidenced by bushfires started by some moron lobbing a butt out of a car window.

What do you think happens to that cigarette butt you have just thrown on the ground?

A rhetorical question, because you obviously don't know and/or care. Do you think the magical Cigarette Butt Fairy appears and spirits it away to whimsical Cigarette Butt Land? More likely a bloke with a bastard leafblower blows it down the drain and then see above.

What do you do at home? Is your floor/backyard/balcony a Great Pyramid of Butts?

Hopefully you dispose of cigarette butts properly, well, as properly as one can... so why don't you do that when you are out?

I know, I know... non-smokers don't get it, it's an addiction, smoking is not illegal, the government makes a fortune out of smokers... blah, blah, blah.

Again. I don't care. You have no rights as a smoker. Perversely, actually you do. You can sit outside a nice restaurant or café "enjoying" your cigarette, the view and the "fresh air", while I have to endure your recycled smoke and that stench. Why should I be forced inside? I know Australian state governments have acted on this to their credit, but this doesn't go far enough. I'm talking to you, Europe.

If smoking just stayed your problem, I'd be happy. Butt it doesn't. So I'm not.


This post first appeared on June 9, 2016.

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