First of all, I am not a smoker BUT I think that the current law of NO-smoking ‘ashtrays’ near buildings is absolutely ludicrous.
There are people who smoke and who will continue to smoke … so be it.
However, because they now have nowhere to butt out, the environment is suffering not to mention the aesthetics of our surroundings.
Instead of a centralized, sand-filled ‘ashtray’ at an entrance where a smoker can bury his butt carefully to be periodically emptied, now it is dropped on the ground or pavement to either be stomped out (hopefully) or left lying until it self-extinguishes.
For those who say, no smoking withing 30 metres of a public building and no ashtrays … puhleez!
There are thousands of butts everywhere … on sidewalks, at entrances to buildings, in parks, on grassy areas outside of banks, etc. Why? Because there is nowhere to put them.
It is a well-known environmental fact that cigarette butts do NOT decompose and do NOT break down for several reasons. One of the foremost is that most cigarette filters are composed of ‘cellulose acetate’, a form of plastic. In other words, the white fibers you see in a cigarette filter is NOT cotton, but a plastic that can persist in the environment the same as other forms of plastic. Four-fifths of all cigarettes filters are a form of plastic that is very slow to degrade in the environment. A typical cigarette butt can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose, depending on conditions.
Therefore, it may come as no surprise that cigarettes are the most littered item on earth.
According to sources, about 4.5 trillion cigarettes are littered each year worldwide and weigh in the millions of pounds. Also, the toxic chemicals absorbed by cigarette filters and found in butts’ remnant tobacco, are quickly leached by water.
So, cigarette butts in the environment is a major litter issue — not a smoking issue. Smokers who now treat outdoor spaces as public ashtrays may reconsider their behavior when they learn that cigarette butts are made of plastic, not of cotton and paper; and worse, that cigarette butts contain chemicals that can kill some of the animals that occupy critical positions in aquatic communities.
If smokers don’t heed the word, then it is important that their littering behavior be modified to decrease this source of pollution. Maybe one of the small behavior modifications is to have a return to public ‘ashtrays’. Some people will never stop smoking so why not at least afford a place to have them BUTT OUT, especially from the environment.