General Question

jca's avatar

Why do smokers treat the Earth as if it is their ashtray?

Asked by jca (27955 points ) May 3rd, 2011

When I am driving, I constantly see smokers flicking cigarettes and ashes out their windows. By the side of the highways and local roads are piles of cigarettes. Why do smokers treat the Earth as if it is there ashtray? Why don’t they keep the cigarettes in their cars and dispose of them properly?

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105 Answers

KatawaGrey's avatar

Probably for the same reasons that drinkers treat the world like their bar and drug users treat the world like their street corner. Sometimes, people just do things that other people don’t like.

jrpowell's avatar

I wonder the same about people that drive. They treat the air I have to breathe as a dumping ground. The next time you walk into a 7/11 take look at the ashtray. Some smokers toss their butts and some don’t.

cheebdragon's avatar

Riiight, because you treat the earth soo much better.~

Im not saying it’s okay, personally I hate when people smoke in cars, but EVERYONE is fucking up the earth in some way. Gum probably isn’t growing any trees.

Glow's avatar

That’s just one of those questions. I used to ask that a lot, but I just kinda shrugged and accepted it. I can’t stop them, ya know? I can try, but it’s too hard for some one like me to try and do. Plus, I have noticed that they tend to have a sense of pride for being smokers and when they are criticized for it, personally or generally, they become rather defensive. They will try and turn the conversation around and make it against you, like YOU are so wrong for asking the question or bringing the issue up at all. So, what can ya do? I just avoid the stress and say “i’ll never be a smoker and I’ll make sure to educate my children on smoking so they will never be smokers too”. It’s the least I can do :S

But also remember, not ALL smokers are as bad as bad can be. Some hide their smoking in their homes and rarely take it beyond that. They prefer not to shove it in everyone’s faces. It’s a hard habit to kick, but at least some do know how to respect those who don’t smoke. Just don’t lump em all into one category.

gondwanalon's avatar

They don’t care about their health, why should they care about the environment?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Glow perhaps people get defensive because it has become pretty socially acceptable to treat smokers as second class citizens.

@jca not all smokers do. For those that do, I think that @KatawaGrey summed it up nicely. There are tons of people out there that do things that others don’t like, that have little respect for the environment, and that may not even think about the consequences of their actions.

cheebdragon's avatar

I quit smoking last year and I wish I had never started to begin with. I’m just not going to be a fucking hipocrate about people destroying the earth when I know that I am doing the same damn thing, in one way or another.

Glow's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf – That may be true, although I haven’t seen smokers treated that badly. Only thing I can think of is how they are forced to smoke in designated areas only, but I guess that is needed, for health reasons, ya know?

I think I would be more concerned with the health of the person smoking rather than the earths condition… considering we are doing more than just smoking to fuck up the earth… the earth seems pretty much doomed as far as that goes. Hopefully, we can encourage smokers to care for their health first, and then with that comes less ash and litter for the earth. Education is the best way!

lemming's avatar

I know it’s very popular right now to be against smokers, but that’s a total generalisation, and are you really annoyed that someone puts ashes, outside, on a filthy road…

Coloma's avatar

I used to smoke and I NEVER littered when disposing of my butts. I did not smoke in public places, was very conscientious of my ‘habit’ and extremely attuned to any potential fire hazards. Smokers arn’t the issue, crappy, oblivious behavior is.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf: You understood perfectly what I said.

Yes, smoking is a bad habit. Yes, it is unhealthy. Yes, it is expensive and bad for the environment. You know what? Lots of things are bad habits, unhealthy, expensive and bad for the environment. @johnpowell made a comment about cars. Do you see Hummers and go, “Ugh, why do drivers drive such gas-guzzling machines?” I’m guessing not.

Here’s the thing about inconsiderate smokers: They’re the ones you see. You don’t see the smokers who are discreet and considerate about their smoking because, well, they’re being discreet and considerate about it.

Not all smokers flick their butts out the window of their cars. Those that do are just litterbugs. Is it better for someone to throw their fast food garbage our of their cars? No, but people do it all the time. You don’t condemn people who eat fast food, though.

The bottom line is this: Some smokers throw their butts out of car windows. It is because they are inconsiderate people, not because they are smokers.

everephebe's avatar

I think littering is bad yes. But think about the trash and garbage you are producing and reduce that first before you are critical of others.

“Why don’t they keep the cigarettes in their cars and dispose of them properly?”
Like putting them into a landfill out of your sight? And like @johnpowell said, what about the car you drive? It’s polluting the world too.

Pretty much everyone treats the earth like their ashtray, even the non-smokers. We all contribute to Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is now twice the size of Texas, and now probably radioactive.

Smokers are small fishes to be frying… Let’s get the oil execs first.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

New cars don’t come standard with ashtrays any longer. That’s just a reason, and not an excuse.

Coloma's avatar

@KatawaGrey
@everephebe

Well said ladies!

Pick your poison, there’s plenty of it.

I always told myself I would never be one of those militant ex-smokers. To each his own.

Smashley's avatar

Essentially, they do it because it’s convenient and society allows it. If more people did something about it, it would generally decrease. In parks and wildlife areas there are stricter rules about these things for environmental reasons, and I think even the most notorious butt-tosser realizes that he probably shouldn’t drop his cig into Old Faithful.

We recognize it as pollution, but the public generally agrees, or agrees through inaction, that in most situations, it’s just not that big of a deal. You can sweep them up, along with all the other jetsam of modern civilization, and we really have better things to worry about.

JLeslie's avatar

You might be interested in this Q. About halfway down I say that smokers who throw their butts on the ground bother me more than the smoking itself. I kind of go back and forth with Val. She tries to defend it, if I remember correctly, because people don’t think to have ashtrays around to put out the cigarettes.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I don’t think it’s the part where they’re smokers, but the part where they’re litterers. Most of the smokers I’ve known have made an effort to put it in an ashtray or assigned container, some haven’t (and, naturally, all the ones who don’t live in the same apartment complex with me.)

jonsblond's avatar

lmao. look at all the defense here for litter bugs. I’m amazed.

I can’t stand litter period. It’s lazy. What I hate the most when it comes to smokers is butts littered all over the playgrounds. I’ve seen little toddlers pick up hot butts before. If you want to be lazy and litter, at least don’t do it where children are playing. That’s just fucked up. When I smoked and didn’t have a place to dispose of the butt, I stomped on the butt until it burned out and then stuck it in my jeans pocket. Doesn’t take that much effort to care for your own waste.

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t throw my used gum out the car window.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond I’m going crazy with my neighbors for doing it. A) because they all have trashcans right outside their doors to put them into, and then they don’t. B) because they then flick them into the garden and private flower pots I’ve been working so hard on. So I’m going to have a friend over who gets a bit more ballsy than me, and let her handle it her way – burning them with the lit end till they cut it out.

JLeslie's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs See if you can get a cop to write them a $100 littering ticket. That happened to a passenger in my exboyfriends car. The cop pulled my boyfriend over and was all nervous he was going to ge a ticket, and instead the cop gave his friend a ticket for throwing a cig butt out the window. LOL! Loved it. Littering is awful. We would all be knee deep in trash if the majority of people threw their trash on the ground.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think I can because it’s all on private property. I asked my landlord about a new policy, but he said that he hesitates to be too strict because he doesn’t allow smoking inside, and that it’s mostly build-up from the winter/spring months when he doesn’t sweep much, and it will get better when he sweeps up the leaves in summer. I don’t think it’s just leftovers, not only have I seen them doing it several times with my own eyes, but we’re talking several hundred in one small backyard – more than the sidewalks or highways around here. But, I’m trying to take a deep breath, see if it gets better after he sweeps (which better be soon, seeing as how I complained), and then bring it up again with him.

JLeslie's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs You are probaby right. It really really bothers me people do this, as you can see if you read that link I put in my answer above, which I don’t expect you too. How can anyone think it is ok? Do they throw bottles on the ground too? I actually once saw someone finish a soda and throw the paper cup on the ground while walking down Washington Ave on South Beach in broad daylight. I was dumbstruck.

JMCSD's avatar

I have to say I don’t appreciate the title of this thread. As others have said, it’s not just smokers. Sure, littering is bad. It’s ugly and bad on the environment. So are fossil fuel plants. However, I’d assume as others have that you own and drive a vehicle? I assume you use plastic trash bags that fill with many non biodegradable materials. We’re all to blame. I smoke. I try not to litter. Does that mean I’ve never thrown a butt out the window? No. Does that mean I believe the, “earth is my ashtray”? No. That’s like saying people who use prepackaged anything are treating the earth like their own landfill.

jonsblond's avatar

@JLeslie We live on a major state route in our area and it’s amazing what people toss from their cars. Mostly beer cans and fast food wrappers end up in the field, but not too long ago I had to pick up two empty pizza boxes. Just amazing how lazy and inconsiderate people can be.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve relaxed some on the littering thing so long as it’s not only biodegradable, but quickly – apple cores, for instance. But mostly, it bugs the crap out of me.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond Wow. That is stunning. My mom would kill me. LOL.

cazzie's avatar

I have a brother in law who is a botanist. This was a pet peeve of his. He’s a smoker but he’d always take his butts and put them in a bag when and do this with all the others when he went on a camping or canoeing trip. He’s try and tell other smokers that they took so many years to bio degrade with all the nasty chemicals and plastic they had in them. Here’s a good article.

http://www.cigarettelitter.org/index.asp?pagename=un

And why are people arguing… ‘Well…. other people pollute in other ways so get off my back about throwing my butts around.’ ?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@cazzie: I don’t think people are arguing that because others litter, you shouldn’t be mad at smokers that throw their butts out of windows, but this specific subject has been argued into the ground. Everyone loves to call out smokers for throwing butts out of windows but no one ever calls out other litterbugs. That’s where I’m coming from, anyway. Instead of blaming one group for something that a small portion does, we should be talking about how all litterbugs are hurting the environment. As @everephebe says, oil execs are doing far worse harm to the environment but people have a tendency to focus on smokers as the worst offenders for hurting the environment. It also bugs me that people get pissed at cigarette smokers specifically, when there are other behaviors that are far more harmful to the environment that everyone does. Driving, for instance. You’re mad that cigarette butts get thrown out the window, yet you’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere every time you start your car. Why is that okay? The truth is, it isn’t, but because everyone uses vehicles at some point or other, no one’s going to say, “Hey, stop driving. It’s polluting the environment.” Also, some people pointed out that the “proper” disposal of garbage means it ends up in a landfill which is terrible for the environment. I think the point these people those people are trying to make is that it doesn’t matter if the butt ends up on the ground of the highway or in a landfill, it’s still going to be a pollutant.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@KatawaGrey Argued into the ground. I see what you did there ;).

Mikewlf337's avatar

Throwing ashes out a car window is not really littering, Throwing cigarette butts out a car window is littering. They do it because of convenience. Smokers should buy an ashtray that goes are for automobiles if the automobile doesn’t have one.

jonsblond's avatar

@KatawaGrey But if we focus on all the issues of how we pollute the earth in one question, there are so many issues to deal with. The OP wanted to concentrate on just one issue at hand. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

mattbrowne's avatar

Same over here.

The flicking of cigarettes and ashes out of car windows will stop once this costs $1000 per flick.

So why? Laziness. Ineffective monitoring and penalizing.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Where are people saying only cigarette butt littering is offensive? I see other people talking about pollution, pollution, but I am talking about littering, throwing trash on the ground. People are talking environment, but it is more than that, it is an eyesore, I might have to step through or avoid it. @everephebe did bring up the Pacific garbage patch, that is just as disgusting as the cig butts, but it does not make the cig butts right.

The person who throws their cig on the ground has immediate feedback that he/she has just put trash in the wrong place. The person who throws out their plastic bag in the trash, and somehow it winds up in the ocean can turn a blind eye, or may have no idea it is happening. It does not make it ok, but the situation is slightly different. The plastic bag person tried to do the right thing (obviously one can argue all plastic bags should be illiminated, but that is a different story).

syzygy2600's avatar

To paraphrase Bill Hicks, if smoking bothers you, I recommend taking a look at the world we live in and shutting your mouth.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@jonsblond: There’s nothing wrong with focusing on one aspect of littering, but this has been done to death. On other threads about how much smoking pollutes, if I brought up other poolutants, people would yell at me and tell me I was wrong. Okay, we get it. Smoking is bad. Anyone who doesn’t know that is either an infant too young to comprehend what’s going on or has been living under a rock their whole entire life. I’m just really sick of people focusing solely on how cigarette smokers are ruining the environment, but someone says, “Well, yeah, but so are other people…” they get stomped on.

@JLeslie: Okay, then how about we vilify all groups of whom a few litter? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out walking and had to pick my way through shards of broken beer bottles. That is both an eyesore and extremely dangerous, more dangerous that a cigarette butt, but no one is vilifying all beer drinkers. However, it is okay to say that all cigarette smokers are awful litterbugs because a few don’t dispose of their butts properly.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I do. @jonsblond and I were disusted by people throwing their trash, pizza boxes, bottles, wrappers, out the car window on the side of the highway. My husband just walked by a bunch of beer bottles on the ground the other day, and we were disgusted. My neighbor and I walk in the neighborhood, and when we come accross trash on one of the paths or in the street (it is rare where we live) we pick it up. Why does anyone think we only care about cig butt litter?

This is why I do not complain about smokers smoking in general. Although, I am in favor of no smoking laws inside of public places. Because if they are blowing smoke, but the truck next them is creating exhaust also, why is one any worse than the other?

lemming's avatar

@mattbrowne Thats a good idea, no, it’s an f-ing brilliant idea. We could charge them for smoking too, 500euro per puff. Here’s another idea, children fined 2000euro every time they make any noise whatsoever in any public place, or any public place that it’s audible…after all I do find that mildly irritating..and old people, wham…300e for holding up pedestrians. I can see it now…why have any tolerence when we can fine them instead, excellent.

thecaretaker's avatar

I have been a smoker for 20 years and have respected the law regarding ashing out the window, you can get a ticket for doing that, smoking besides harmful effects wouldnt be a problem to other people if those who smoke think responsibly, but lets face it, when your smoking you are already not thinking responsibly or seriously about your own health and then the health of others, I currently still smoke but I think of other people when smoking and dispose of butts properly; what irritates me is smoking in a designated area and people that dont smoke walk into the area im at and start coughing loudly or ask if I can put it out, one rude act deserves another in return, I will ash on your head or blow it in your face.

JLeslie's avatar

@thecaretaker That I can understand. However, it is annoying when smoking is allowed in an outdoor eating area of a restaurant. I don’t get very upset being around a smoker once in a while, a little smoke does not bother me. But, It does bother my husband a lot. If we are sitting having a meal, and then smokers sit down at the table next to us, it is not easy for us to just walk over to another area. Smoking areas that are just designated areas of a building or campus grounds or just walking down the street is a different thing.

When I lived in FL I don’t remember ever having smokers around when eating al fresco. I have no idea if it was not permitted or just fewer smokers? Here in Memphis it happens.

cazzie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Well, if you can blame oil execs, I’ll blame tobacco execs responsible for all the butts and air pollution from tobacco.

Littering and throwing butts on the ground is completely avoidable. Air pollution from driving a petrol and diesel cars is a by-product of our lives.

jonsblond's avatar

I think most of us here know @jca well enough to know she is not grouping all smokers as litter bugs. This is where the nitpicking comes in because one simple little work some was left out of the title of the question. I think we can all agree that it is lazy and inconsiderate to leave a cigarette butt on the ground for someone else to have to pick up. I think those that are getting defensive are doing so because they are smokers and are taking this too personally. I was a smoker for many years, but at least I didn’t litter.

@thecaretaker I haven’t smoked for 8 years now. When I am around smoke now it makes me cough and gives me a sore throat and headache that will last the night. I can’t control how my body reacts to some chemicals. Not trying to be rude. First, I wouldn’t go in a designated area to begin with, and I also wouldn’t ask you to put it out if you are in a designated area. I will ask you to put it out if you are standing in a playground though where it is asked of you to not smoke there.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@cazzie: A lot of pollution from cars is also avoidable, but people are lazy. I’d be willing to bet that you could walk, ride a bike or carpool a lot more than you do but you choose not to because it’s too much work.

@jonsblond: And I think people should not smoke around you. However, only cigarette smokers are made aware of this kind of reaction. The smell of pot smoke irritates me and makes me cough but if I ask someone not to smoke pot around me, no one listens. People smoke pot indoors yeah, I know, it’s illegal, but that doesn’t mean I should have to deal with your habit. My point is that some people are inconsiderate and some of those people smoke cigarettes, just like some people are inconsiderate and some people smoke pot. Why is it that cigarette smokers always take it up the ass about this stuff, though? It’s because it’s become okay to hate smokers but it’s not okay to hate a pot-smoker for smoking pot or someone who drinks for drinking alcohol.

jonsblond's avatar

@KatawaGrey This is what I mean about the topic becoming personal. Totally off subject now. Pot-smokers take it up the ass by being fired from their jobs for doing something on their own personal time, and I don’t see much love for alcoholics. This discussion is about littering.

JLeslie's avatar

Is “designated smoking area” the same as an area where smoking is permitted?

@KatawaGrey Interesting. I just wrote on another Q, I can’t stand people who drive drunk or have to drink to have a good time. I still don’t understand why smokers, or the people defending them 100% without any exceptions, think we, who are bothered by their littering, or smoke, don’t get bothered by other people’s actions also.

JLeslie's avatar

How about this. Let’s change the question to: don’t you hate people who litter? Then do the smokers take it less personally? They will still come up. Those butts on the ground will still be on the thread.

I am not seriously asking to change the question, I am just saying smokers who do littler, need to own this behavior, not say its ok. And, it is easily overcome, it is not a systemic thing that takes an incredile amount of effort to change. Just throw your trash in a trash can when you get to one. I feel badly about using and throwing away plastic bags when I do. I don’t try to say its ok because other people don’t turn down their thermostats in the afternoon.

everephebe's avatar

@cazzie I have to take issue with the complacency of this:

“Air pollution from driving a petrol and diesel cars is a by-product of our lives.”

It’s only a by-product of our lives because some humans are greedy fucks. We don’t need oil, we just want oil and it’s probably one of the worst addictions on the planet. Planned obsolescence is just a by-product of our lives. We can’t help or change that right? Smoking is bad, yes. Littering is also bad, yes. But let’s not make mountains out of molehills, even if the molehills are made of cigarette butts. If this form of litter bothers you, then other forms should bother you just as much.

Personally I’m much more worried about other poisons and pollutions, like the ones in our food, and food supply. Pretty much everyone, including me, treats the world like garbage. I get it, cigarettes are gross, but they ain’t as gross as quite a few things. I bet you shopping at Walmart or a number of stores is much worse then smoking. Or eating at McDonalds, etc. etc. You too have to reduce first and foremost, reuse secondly, and thirdly recycle.

Change yourself first before you judge others. And beware that you don’t have nasty habits yourself. If you think smoking and flicking butts is a bad thing, don’t do it. Smokers and litterers are just a by-product of our consumer life.
And forget about the butts, what about the pollution that smoking causes the body? Are a few eyesores worse than a painful death?

jonsblond's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie. Why is it assumed that those of us bitching about littering cigarette butts aren’t concerned about other forms of litter or pollutants? The topic of the question is cigarette butts. Get off your high-horses and quit assuming things you know nothing about. I’d gladly discuss solutions to other forms of polluting the earth on a question meant for just that.

JLeslie's avatar

@everephebe So if we clean the air, get rid of plastic, have cars that run on hydrogen, then can we dump all our cig butts on your lawn? Your argument makes no sense to me at all. How can you be in favor of littering, or excuse it? It is a very very simple fix within the individuals control, that has no excuse of addiction, or waiting for government or big business to change. Litter. Litter? Come on.

everephebe's avatar

@JLeslie If you clean the air, get rid of plastic, and have cars that run on hydrogen, you can dump all your cigarette butts on my lawn! Small price to pay for a better world, I’ll take one for the team! :D

everephebe's avatar

I am not in favor of littering of course, and I am not excusing it. I simply think that some priorities are skewed.

I agree that smokers should dispose of their butts in their own ashtrays. I am not excusing those that don’t. By the way I am not a smoker. And I agree ”[i]t is a very very simple fix within the individuals control, that has no excuse of addiction,” for their littering.

My point is merely that while it’s an eyesore, disrespectful and thoughtless… At least it has you mad about littering, and there are worse violations of nature than cigarette butts.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok. I give up then. You don’t care about litter. You’re entitled to your opnion.

JLeslie's avatar

Oops, wrote that before I saw your last post. Don’t argue for them, the litterers. Bring up your disgust of the other problems in the environment on a different Q is my advice.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@everephebe The reason it’s harder to accept is that someone buying a car that’s gas inefficient is only impersonally disrespectful. Throwing your cigarette butt on someone else’s law or garden is very personally disrespectful.

everephebe's avatar

@JLeslie I am not arguing for litterers, I am however cautioning against immediate prejudice of smokers, and judging people for things that you, yourself are guilty of in other ways.

The question is “Why do smokers treat the Earth as if it is their ashtray?” My answer is: Well they aren’t alone and how do we dispose of anything properly? Just about everyone treats the world as their own garbage pile.

@MyNewtBoobs Very true, or any form of garbage for that matter!

JLeslie's avatar

@everephebe No, in the case of litter, in the USA, I would say very very very few people actually litter as a percentage. Putting something in the trash that winds up in a landfill or the ocean is a different thing. A different issue that needs to be dealt with. Garbage and litter are not synonomous. I should say intentional littering.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@everephebe Not really. My backyard has hundreds of cigarette butts. Only a couple cans of beer are out, and they’re normally gone within a week. There are a few scraps of paper (in the 2“x2” size arena), perhaps ten or fifteen, and a handful of bottle caps. And that’s it. Cigarette butts seem to take up an high percentage of litter.

cazzie's avatar

Wow. You guys don’t know me. I don’t drive a car.

everephebe's avatar

@JLeslie I agree that garbage and litter aren’t quite synonymous. And America is quite clean in comparison to some other countries. I don’t know about the percentage. I certainly see more apathy here than I personally care for, including smokers of course.

“Putting something in the trash that winds up in a landfill or the ocean is a different thing.” Yes, but how is it less bad for the planet?

I see plenty of non-cigarette litter out there. Any litter is a problem.
Well, and so is any garbage, but that is perhaps a topic for another thread.

@MyNewtBoobs Point taken, I still think that any litter is bad though.

@cazzie I would think about editing out that last sentence, if I were you. [edit] @cazzie I didn’t mean lose the first sentence! That was the good one… oh well. [re-re-edit] Ok, that’s better. :D

KatawaGrey's avatar

@cazzie: That’s good. However, saying that cars pumping crap into the air is okay just because lots of people drive but cigarette butts being thrown on the ground is not okay seems odd to me. Of what high nicotine horse do you speak? I am a non-smoker.

I’ll say my main point one last time. I do not think it is okay to smoke or to litter anything, by the way but this horse is dead. It has been beaten enough. Let’s talk about other cases of littering. Yes, some people who smoke also litter. Yes, okay, we get it. No one is denying that but it seems that people are rarely interested in talking about any other form of littering. Can we please, as a society, either do something about it or move on to a different topic?

jonsblond's avatar

@KatawaGrey Are you saying it’s been talked about enough at Fluther that we shouldn’t talk about it anymore? We might as well shut Fluther down then, because everything else has been discussed multiple times. Bringing up this topic is trying to do something about it. Ignoring it because there are supposedly worse things people do is not going to solve anything.

Looks like different discussions are being held here, not just cigarette butts.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@KatawaGrey I think if you feel it’s been talked to death, it’s up to you to leave the conversation, not others to move on to other topics.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Why do you think @cazzie is saying cars pumping polution into the air is OK? She is saying it is different than throwing litter on the street.

cazzie's avatar

Thread, hijacked. logic lost.

cazzie's avatar

It as @JMCSD ‘s comment I was having trouble with and then @KatawaGrey seemed to lose track of the subject and derail, accusing me of not walking enough without even knowing me. hmmm…. and Never did I state that traffic pollution was ok.

I think we can agree that not all pollution is littering, but all littering is pollution. I was trying to point out that cigarette butts are made of plastic and not biodegradable. Throwing cigarette butts on the ground is littering.

The Wiki link on littering is an interesting read.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litter

dxs's avatar

Excellent Question!
I didn’t really read the posts above, but I’d say it’s because they don’t want to keep it themselves because it can cause a mess/fire. Disposing of it in a trashcan or car may be dangerous.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@dxs If they put it out properly, it won’t cause more of a fire in an ash tray than flicked randomly to possibly land near an incredibly flammable thing.

keobooks's avatar

There have been grass and brush fires started by cigarette embers. This is really serious and I don’t think a lot of smokers realize how one little red ember flicked during a drought season can cause a whole lot of destruction.

I used to be a smoker, so it’s not just like I’m hating everything about smoking, but I get sick of seeing cigarette butts ALL OVER THE PLACE in areas that you don’t see other trash. You can say it’s just another form of littering and if they weren’t tossing cigarettes, they’d be tossing other stuff, but it’s just not true.

My upstairs neighbors never would dream of throwing their trash all over the place, but I had to take my daughter in and not let her play in our back yard because it was covered in butts from the neighbors upstairs. I’ve been to playgrounds where the sandboxes were full of cat poop and cigarette butts, but NO OTHER TRASH.

I’m sorry, but smokers (no not every single smoker who ever lived) do throw out their butts without thinking of the fire hazard. They throw out their butts in places that they’d never dream of throwing out their other garbage. It’s a menace, and I think just saying it’s no worse or no more prevalent than other forms of littering is not facing reality.

thecaretaker's avatar

Smoking is like anything else, must be done responsibly and consumed lightly, I dont buy tobacco anymore, I grow my own, much cleaner and I dont cough like I used to, that stuff they sell has enhancers added as well as chemicals to get it to your bloodstream faster; doesnt make it totally safe but it does smell better.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks GA. I was just thinking something similar, and then I came back to my computer and saw your post. They throw the butts on the ground, but don’t litter anything else. That has to mean they don’t even recognize the cig butt is litter.

thecaretaker's avatar

Then you get those idiot nonsmokers that stick there trash in public butt cans and try to blame it on smokers when it catches fire, those people need there kneecaps broken.

JLeslie's avatar

@thecaretaker That is a problem too.

thecaretaker's avatar

@JLeslie, its the same lazy welfare types that leave pop cans, drinking cups, and used diapers in parking lots, there so lazy they open the car door and plunk it right there then drive off; those people need to be tracked down and straight out executed.

jonsblond's avatar

@thecaretaker Welfare types? I’ve seen people dressed nicely, driving very nice cars, dump their entire ashtray onto the parking lot then take off. Rich people are lazy too.

thecaretaker's avatar

@jonsblond, Ya those are the people Im talking about, welfare types, you think they look like pigpen slaving away at a job someplace?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@thecaretaker Indeed. Fuck the poor. Selfish bastards, they brought it on themselves! ~

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augustlan's avatar

Way late to this discussion, but I have some firsthand observations about my own behavior, as a smoker. When I was a lot younger, I didn’t really think about it at all. I was raised by a smoker who routinely emptied her entire car ashtray into public parking lots. I’m talking a baseball-sized mound of butts, here. I never did that, but I did throw my butts out the window. It never even occurred to me to think of it as litter. After all, my mother taught me not to throw trash on the ground, yet she routinely did so with her cigarette remains. Chalk it up to being young and dumb.

Later, I became cognizant of the fact that they don’t biodegrade well (at all?) and stopped doing it. Then I bought a used car that didn’t come with an ashtray and did it again for a while, always feeling guilty about it. Finally, I bought an ashtray that sits in my car’s cupholder and solved the problem. That said, I still flick my ashes (NOT butts) out the window (unless there’s a bad drought/fire risk), because it’s safer than taking my eyes off the road every two seconds to aim for the ashtray. I don’t think of ashes as litter (though they are a fire hazard). Are they litter? (My oldest daughter says yes, but can’t explain why she thinks so.)

mattbrowne's avatar

@lemming – Small children have a right to make noise. No one has the right to litter.

And we should keep in mind that the large majority of smokers do not litter. And there are plenty of non-smokers who do litter. Plenty of plastic cups next to roads.

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JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think ashes are litter. If someone dumps a pile of ashes in a parking lot, that might sit there for a while, and I would find that inconsiderate to others. If it is damp out it might become muddy. If someone dumps ashes on the ground in dirt, I don’t think that is a big deal at all.

thecaretaker's avatar

@JLeslie, I agree with you, ash is in fact good for the ground, for growing plants need some ash, other plants need a lot of ash; the problem with ashing out the window though is it may start a fire and of course burn down property, the butts themselves break down but to many of them looks unsightly, they keep pulling my comments but I really do feel a caining is in order for those that dump there garbage and waste in parking lots, they publicly cain people in Singapore for this and that place is impecably clean.

jonsblond's avatar

@thecaretaker It can take up to 12 years for a cigarette butt to break down. They aren’t just unsightly. You might find the following article interesting. I hope you read it. 10 Things You Should Know About Cigarette Butt Litter.

thecaretaker's avatar

@jonsblond, bullsh1t! a cigarette butt will last 2 years tops, then its desinagrated, youve got bad information.

cheebdragon's avatar

So basically what everyone really means, is that it’s not okay to litter where you might be forced to look at it. Its better to litter in mass quantities at the local dump. Correct? Out of sight out of mind, fuck the earth, but please don’t force anyone to look at cigarette butts!!~

JLeslie's avatar

@cheebdragon No, that is not what we are saying. We care about all of it.

jonsblond's avatar

@thecaretaker According to the New York Times- 10–12 years Do you read any of the links any of us are posting? Do you have a link to prove your claim?

and I was right, This is useless. Smokers getting defensive and protecting their right to litter. and the people here discussing litterers and cigarette butts only care about the cigarette butts and no other foms of litter and polluting the earth~

thecaretaker's avatar

@jonsblond No I dont, Ive been smoking 20+ years to know what im talking about, the New York Times half of them dont know what there writing about, I used to subscribe to them before I figured out you can get the same articles free with Bloomberg; and sounds like your the one being defensive offensive towards smokers.

jonsblond's avatar

@thecaretaker I smoked for 15 years and I know what I’m talking about.~ And you have just proven that you have read no links on this thread concerning the toxins that leak from cigarette butts and the harm it does, even if it only takes two years to decompose. I can’t believe the arguments I am hearing on this thread. Absolutely ridiculous.

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jonsblond's avatar

@thecaretaker You mentioned how you are against littering. Then you should approve of the following website and their information they provide . http://www.litterfreeplanet.com/id6.html

Since you seem to be having trouble reading links provided here, I will copy and paste what litter free planet has to say. They dedicate an entire page to cigarette butts because 1.7 billion pounds of butts litter our planet every year.

Exposing the Butts

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Keep America Beautiful, New Scientist magazine, Alliance for the Great Lakes
June 18, 2008

4.5 trillion: Number of cigarette butts that wind up as litter worldwide per year

1.35 trillion: Cigarette filters manufactured annually for major brands of U.S. cigarettes

1.69 billion: Pounds of butts that wind up as litter worldwide per year

12,000: Plastic-based fibers in a cigarette filter

5,654: Number of butts volunteers cleaned up from North Avenue Beach (Chicago) in just 3 hours in September 2006

200: Number of butts that, taken as a whole, contain enough nicotine to kill an adult

30 : Percentage of waste in U.S. shorelines, waterways and on land made up by cigarette butts

10–15 years: Length of time it takes a filter’s component fibers to break down; they do not biodegrade

2 months: Length of time it takes a new, food-starch-based cigarette butt to biodegrade

1: Rank of cigarette butts in list of worst litter problems in the U.S.

Are you going to argue against the CDC and their findings? My work is done here.

everephebe's avatar

@jonsblond It’s definitely an issue. There is no ignoring it, but what do you think is the best way to combat it? Or is that a post for another question?

jonsblond's avatar

@everephebe I’m afraid you can’t fix lazy. :(

everephebe's avatar

Nah, but you can turn lazy on it’s head though. So how would we do that?

jonsblond's avatar

@everephebe You can start with education, but as you can tell, someone would rather smoke than read here. I’ve said all I have to say. Got a little one that needs to go to bed. goodnight. =)

everephebe's avatar

Cheers, @jonsblond. Tell us more about education tomorrow. I like reading.

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JLeslie's avatar

Seems like awareness might change it somewhat. And, actually coming up with what to do with the butts. @augustlan pointed out that she simply put cig butts in a different category than other litter before having some sort of aha moment. If there was some sort of campaign that butts are litter, then probably people would start saying something when people did it in front of them. Or, the smokers themselves would feel more worry or shame about doing it. Might cut down on the people doing it in public, but the ones throwing it out the car window on the highway might not stop, because they are moving at 70 MPH, so it feels anonymous.

@thecaretaker I don’t see why it matters if it is 2 years or 10? 2 is a very long time. It’s different when it is the crust of a sandwich some kid doesn’t want to finish and he tosses it somewhere. Birds and ants and other wildlife get rid of it within 24 hours, it doesn’t even need to breakdown. A piece of cardboard that will eventually breakdown takes too long for me to be ok with it being littered, it should be in a trash can or recycle bin. Hell, look at curb your dog laws. Dog poo will eventually go back to the land, but no one wants it everywhere.

thecaretaker's avatar

@JLeslie, the whole thing is silly, people will come up with anything to say something is bad, these same people who attack smokers have there own vises, we could bring up the consumtion of salt and how its raising the salinity of fresh water tables, its amusing what people will conjure up to prove there point, heres my solution to cigarette butts, outlaw them; start selling filterless cigarettes, that way theres nothing left to complain about.

JLeslie's avatar

@thecaretaker Yeah, let’s never address any issues, or raise any awareness. Let’s just let everyone do what ever the fuck they please, and not even give them an opportunity to do better, even if they want to.

thecaretaker's avatar

@JLeslie, what if this is as good as it gets?

augustlan's avatar

In thinking about this question more, it dawned on me that I never see a ton of butts laying around – on the side of roads or elsewhere – anymore. We must have pretty good public cleaning systems in place where I live. Maybe that’s part of the problem?

thecaretaker's avatar

Why dont we just get rid of humans, every activity there doing is harmful to the planet, planet comes first then people, right?

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