LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cigarette butts a problem

Sep 28, 2011

We walked through Grand Haven State Park for an hour and a half. Part of the project was to count debris for recording purposes for the Alliance. We had 447 cigarette butts. These were just the ones on the surface, covering a small area, in a small amount of time. Think how many are under the shifting sand!

The purpose of this letter is not to talk to smokers about health issues. They know the facts. Rather it is to share with smokers that the beach belongs to all of us. If we saw people leaving cans, bottles, or papers on the beach, we have all been programmed to know that this is unacceptable and probably would speak up. When did it become OK for cigarette butts to be cast aside on our beaches? Have we become so conditioned to seeing butts laying along the curbs, on sidewalks, at entrances of buildings or watching people throw butts out of car windows that we no longer react?

The governor has proposed a ban on smoking at state beaches under his new health initiative. (Smoking is also allowed at Grand Haven City Beach.) This is important, but smoking should also be banned because we have evidence from this clean-up collection and other data that supports that cigarette butts are negatively impacting the quality of our environment.

I know smokers will read this letter with anger because you have already been affected by laws and regulations as to where you can or cannot smoke. Please remember, however, that this is about the greater good; people who have chosen not to smoke should not be exposed to your smoke or your litter. Thank you for pinching the burning ash and placing the filter in your pocket. Thank you for carrying a small container to transport your cigarette remains. Thank you for using available trash receptacles. Thank you for your help making our beaches and our city even more beautiful!

— Sandy Huber, Grand Haven

Comments

GH55

Sandy, I would like to answer your question concerning "When did it become OK for cigarette butts to be cast aside on our beaches?" It has never been OK! It is, as you said, littering!
Unfortunately, there are no real consequences for this action. How many times, driving on the road, do you see butts cast out the windows? How many times do you see them stubbed out, sticking out of the sand at the beach? How many times have you seen someone just drop a butt without even stepping on it as they enter some place of business where they can't smoke? How many times have I realized I must be getting back to a trail head, because now I see butts lying on the trail?
Unfortunately, it is a rare instance, when driving, shopping or going to the beach, when you don't see this absolutely mindless discarding of this litter.
The mere concept of smoking disgusts me, but to have to make my way through our streets, beaches, and trails, littered with discarded butts just reinforces that disgust.
I am right there with you on the litter issue. I used to wonder why this had never been brought up before. I can't pitch my fast food debris out the window of my car, which right along with butts, many do, so why do smokers think, that once that butt leaves their fingers, it has no further connection to them or their conscience? I don't understand.
Perhaps, more than a ban, there should be a deposit on every butt! Think of the revenue possibilities.
Smoking is a mindless habit, that has been foisted on us by slick advertising, and the manipulation by the producers of the nicotine levels to cause addiction. The mindlessness extends to the lack of courtesy that most smokers, regardless of whether its the second hand smoke or the litter, extend to those around them. If their habit didn't affect me, it would not bother me. But, since both the smoke and the litter are disgusting, it ends up with government control, because those that smoke have demonstrated they don't have that control.
Thanks, for raising the issue of the litter.

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