Time to turn attention to (cigarette) butts

This is a guest post by New Westminster’s Ken McIntosh, former cop and author of Cap to the Nat, which chronicles six decades of minor league baseball at Vancouver Capilano/Nat Bailey Stadium with the Capilanos Mounties and Canadians from 1951 to 2008. Ken has recently launched two local baseball blogs: Vancouver Minor League Baseball and The Best In New West:1974 New Westminster Frasers Baseball Club.

Photo: Steven De Polo
Photo: Steven De Polo

As a former smoker I am just beginning to realize the impact that smoking has on the environment. Environmentalists are all over plastic water drinking bottles, idling and pesticides. But never a whimper about butts, butts.

Cigarette butts get discarded at the side of the road causing fires and pollution. Emptying ashtrays into the storm sewer grates, onto parking lots, onto the curb or sidewalk has become expected! Those butts have more poison and danger to fish, birds and other animals than some pesticides. But nary has a discussion taken place about the environmental impact of careless discarding of cigarette butts.

I once suggested to a friend who smokes that there should be a deposit taken on cigarettes and an environmental tax much like on beverage containers for the return of cigarette butts. Boy was that a lead balloon, as he became extremely indignant.

What a system to collect and dispose of cigarette butts would look like, I have little idea. Possibly by the ½ pound or pound – who knows, but I care.

Cigarette butts have caused many a house, business and forest fire. We need to think hard and fast about a solution for collecting and safely disposing of toxic cigarette butts. I have dug through many a fire caused by the discarding of a cigarette but incorrectly. I have also seen the damage that cigarette smoke causes to a human lung during autopsies.

Not only are cigarette butts damaging to the environment in so many ways so are cigarettes extremely costly to the health care system.

I challenge the environmentalists to continue my thoughts so that we as a society can first collect and dispose of cigarette butts safely, then use our knowledge to help curb the use of cigarettes for the betterment of our world!

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