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A Butt by Any Other Name


There is seemingly, a total disregard for the act of knowingly discarding trash in public areas. If I were to take a poll, I am certain I would get almost 100 percent confirmation that no one would personally commit such a thoughtless act.

I had the recent experience, while on the bike/walk path, of watching two ladies in conversation, one of them smoking. As I watched, the smoker dropped her cigarette to the ground and stepped on it. They then turned and began to walk toward me.

As they approached, I politely said, “Excuse me.” They smiled and asked if I was a lost tourist. I explained I was a local and then asked if either of them would be upset to see a tourist, or any other person, deliberately throw trash along the path. Their bemused, questioning smiles followed as the smoker said, “Probably,” and asked if I was “taking a survey or something.”

I explained that I considered a cigarette butt to be trash. Her comment was “Oh, that; well it was just a cigarette.”

In Santa Barbara and most coastal communities, discarded cigarette butts will eventually end up being washed into the ocean. When cigarette filters enter the ocean environment, they are usually consumed by one type of sea life or another. The material in the filter is toxic and indigestible and typically not able to be passed through the creature’s system.

A cigarette butt is the worst kind of trash.

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