The World is not Your Ashtray

This morning on the way to work, the woman driving in front of me down the 75 tossed a spent cigarette out of her car window. I watched it bounce on the pavement a few times before it hit my car and flew off elswhere. I wanted to get out and tell her that the world is not her ashtray!

One of my pet peeves (note the use of the term “pet peeve”, which means “a minor annoyance that can instill extreme frustration in an individual”- this is my acknowledgement that the frustration expressed here is over a trivial thing that just happens to annoy me) is people who smoke and then casually toss out their cigarette butts into nature, onto the street, or whatever, caring not one whit about where it lands or how it adds to the trash already inundating our streets and the nature that surrounds them. To me, it shows extreme disregard for other people and environmental hazards.

For one thing, people don’t like to drive down the road or walk down the sidewalk and see used cigarette butts nearly everywhere the eye looks. They are ugly- eyesores- and they contribute greatly to a general impression of trashiness. I don’t want my town to seem trashy!

For another thing, people throwing out their still smoking cigarette butts seem entirely impervious to the danger of starting a fire. The climate in Dallas this last couple of years has been much drier than average, meaning that the brush and grass surrounding our roads is more like fuel than vegetation. When I drive at night and some careless litterbug tosses out a live cigarette butt, the accompanying shower of glowing, red sparks across the roadway is impressive. But don’t these people think about the fact that this impressive display could start a fire, especially given the current tinder-like capacity of the vegetation surrounding the roads?

Come on people- you already know that smoking is disgusting in today’s society. There is no reason to turn the world into your ashtray! :)

[/rant about meaningless pet peeve]

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12 Responses to The World is not Your Ashtray

  1. john f. says:

    A pet peeve of mine is to see people smoking with young children. I feel very bad for those kids and indignant that the parents have such callous disregard for their children’s well being and physical health. I’ve often wondered whether it doesn’t border on child abuse to smoke in the car or house where there are young children.

    Ironically, though, I personally actually enjoy, in a sick way, the smell of cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, or pipe tobacco. Sure, it is noxious, but it invokes memories for me of experiences across Europe. I should clarify that I only enjoy an initial whiff of it. Prolonged exposure to it causes the same effect in me as in most other non-smokers: headache, itchy eyes, respitory irritation, etc. Walking down the street and getting a whiff of it can bring back memories but, trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in the archives of the Bilbioteca Nacional in Madrid with a smoking librarian all day! I wonder what all the chain-smoking researchers do now that Spain has also passed legislation banning smoking in public buildings.

  2. Jordan F. says:

    Smoking in public carries its own completely separate set of pet peeves for me. But throwing your cigarette butts out your car window with no regard for where it lands just seems so rude and callous.

  3. john f. says:

    Yeah, I’ve always wondered if that poses a danger for other cars — could the embers cause a car behind to blow up?

  4. Sam B says:

    I don’t know about danger for other cars, but in Southern California in the right months it could set off a brush fire that keeps going and going and going and going . . .

  5. Jordan F. says:

    Sam- that is definitely one of the main concerns out here in Texas as well.

  6. Jared says:

    I once spent a summer during high school working for the city’s public works department. It amounted to sweeping up sidewalks and curbs. Since we were high schoolers we had somebody appointed to supervise us. A lot of what we swept up were cigarrete butts. One day after sweeping up sidewalks I saw this supervisor finish a cigarrete and then toss it out into the street. I was shocked. He reasoning? If he tossed into the street the streetsweeper would get it and we would wouldn’t have to sweep it up.

    A coworker of mine recently got a $1000 ticket for throwing a butt out her car window. When she went to court, she explained that she had put it out before flicking it and it wasn’t lit. The judge reduced her ticket to only $100 (for littering). Still, she will definetly not be doing that again!

  7. ed42 says:

    Has anyone given in to their urge to (at a stop light of course) get out of your car, pick up the butt and toss it in their open window?

  8. Jordan F. says:

    Ed- believe me, I have thought of it. This morning on the freeway, the traffic was quite slow, and when the woman in front of me tossed out her SECOND cigarette butt, I seriously thought about jumping out of the car (we were at a standstill at that moment) and throwing it right back in…

    I showed admirable restraint! :)

  9. meems says:

    I hate smoking in public. It feels kind of sleazy, and parents smoking with babies or young kids is so irresponsible, IMO. (Of course, many really can’t stop). My husband’s hometown of Belmont, California has become the country’s first non-smoking town. The part about not being able to smoke in any place except inside a single family residence is kind of weird. We’ll see how it turns out.

  10. Jordan F. says:

    Wow meems! That California town has opened itself up to controversy. There will likely be lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality. I think the Courts have generally held that smoking is not a fundamentally protected right, though, so I doubt they will succeed. I think the Courts (various state courts at least) have even held that smoking is NOT a fundamental right emanating from some constitutional penumbra of privacy. (Of course, sodomy is…)

    That means that any smoking ban would be analyzed under a rational basis review, and I think the rational bases for such a ban are high in number- decreasing litter and increasing public health just to name a few…

    That’s interesting about Belmont, though. I wonder what it would take to get such a ban passed in Richardson! (lol… yeah, right!). Though to Richardson’s credit, it has banned smoking in all restaurants, etc.

  11. meems says:

    Yeah, Jordon. I expect to see a lot of people put up a fight about this non-smoking Belmont thing. The thing that really kills me is this fact that someone can’t smoke in their apartment or car. That’s going to cause the biggest fuss of all, I imagine. I’m anxious to see how the law is worded. I guess we won’t have to worry about cigarettes being thrown out of the car in Blemont, though. Wait! Actually, when driving through the town, people will all have to put out their cigarettes at once, and maybe EVERYONE will be throwing ciggies out the windows!

  12. ed42 … all the time, but I restrain myself …

    That is the only bad thing about Texas is the way people have decided to protect their cars from cigarettes by throwing them all out the windows.

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