Flick. One cigarette butt leaves the car via the window and lands at the side of the road. Nobody gives it a second thought until later, when viewing the news, there's a report of a serious fire that destroyed acres of woodland, several buildings and threatened the lives of both humans and animals.
Yes, it happens, and far too often. A cigarette butt that isn't properly extinguished, even when dropped on the ground as we walk, can cause incredible damage. They've been known to blow into front-gardens where they've settled by a flammable object, and within a few minutes a butt dropped without thought has damaged an innocent person's property.
They've rolled under cars where they've ignited oil leaks and blown into the faces of small children. Improperly extinguished cigarette butts have a lot to answer for.But extinguished or not, cigarette butts are still one of the major pollutants of our time.
Wherever people tend to gather, there are always an increased number of cigarette butts to be seen. I think most will agree that they're ugly, but aesthetics aside, it's the toxins in the accumulated butts that are the real problem.During storms and heavy rainfalls, the accrued butts are likely to find their way into drains where they are carried to rivers and/or the sea.
Within each butt is a collection of dangerous toxins that were never meant to enter our bodies. That's why the filters are there, they're designed to catch and collect those toxins. Smoking tobacco ?Nicotiana tabacum ? is a member of the nightshade group of plants and contains deadly poisons. In fact, nicotine, in its pure form, is the deadliest of all plant products known to man.A spent cigarette butt holds a high concentration of nicotine which, once wet, leaks out into our rivers and seas along with 165 other substances, including arsenic, lead, benzene, butane and formaldehyde. Don't you think it's strange that lead's been banned from use in paint and yet is perfectly legal in cigarettes?.
Since it's become increasingly popular to ban smoking inside buildings, more and more butts are finding their way into the environment. They're the most common form of litter worldwide and, unbelievably, make up almost half of all litter found outdoors. That's a lot of dog-ends!.Another problem is the time that the plastic wrapping and the filters themselves stay in the environment. Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts aren't biodegradable. They're made of 95% cellulose acetete, a form of plastic that takes up to 25 years to decompose.
Maybe one small cigarette butt isn't going to make a huge difference to the environment, but when several trillion of them are thrown away annually, they pose a very definite threat to our collective well being.The Solution.If you're a smoker, consider using a portable ashtray. You don't need to buy one that's specially designed for the job, any foil wrapping (such as that found around mints and some other types of sweets/candy) will do.If you manage a public building where people congregate in numbers, install ashtrays where smokers are likely to gather. You may feel that by doing so you're encouraging smoking, but the truth is, smokers will smoke regardless of whether there's an ashtray available; they just won't pollute quite as much.
Organise a local clean up. While nobody likes to clean up after others, it's a better alternative than leaving the butts to pollute our environment.Conclusion.You may think that your few butts won't make any difference as long as others continue to pollute, but you'd be wrong.
Changes can only come about when some go forward as good examples for others to follow.And if a child in your neighbourhood becomes seriously ill through ingesting a cigarette butt (s)he found on the street (yes, it happens), at least you'll know it wasn't yours..Sharon Jacobsen, a full-time professional writer based in the UK, is an ex-smoker now embarrassed at having once been part of the problem.
Hopefully, by helping others become aware of the problem, she'll be able to ease her own conscience somewhat.If you'd like Sharon to write compelling and informative articles for your website, ezine, newsletter, or print magazine, please visit http://www.sharon-jacobsen.co.
uk for further information.
By: Sharon Jacobsen