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Smoking pollution a problem at Drake

Bellis is junior English major and can be contacted at amanda.bellis@drake.edu

Scene 1: I am walking through campus on my way to class. Scene 2: I am walking across a parking lot and into a store or mall. Scene 3: I am driving in my car and noticing other cars around me. What do these three scenes have in common? An unfortunate and sadly ignored form of pollution: cigarettes.

I don’t smoke. I also have trouble understanding what makes a person start to smoke. But the biggest issue I have with smoking and with smokers has nothing to do with the actual act of smoking and has everything to do with the cigarette leftovers when the smoker is finished.

It is impossible to go anywhere without encountering cigarette butts strewn over the ground. How is it possible that people do not see the alternative disposal options? People standing on a sidewalk smoking are often only a few feet away from a trash can, almost all of which have an ashtray on top of them.

The people smoking in their cars cannot claim that they have the only cars made without an ashtray. The world is designed to accommodate smokers in the places where they will be smoking, yet these accommodations are rarely used. I still see piles of cigarette butts on the ground outside stores, only a couple feet from the trash can ashtrays.

I sit in my car at red lights behind people who open their windows and chuck their half-smoked cigarettes onto the street, when they have perfectly good ashtrays in their cars. Why? You wouldn’t throw the packaging and leftovers from your meals out onto the side of the road (well, maybe you would, but that brings up another issue entirely). Generally speaking, however, people are far less likely to throw larger forms of trash out their windows or onto the ground while they’re walking. So why are cigarette butts OK?

The answer? They’re not. Throwing cigarette butts on the ground is pollution, just like throwing down any other form of trash. They may be small, but they add up. Cigarette butts are covering the ground everywhere in our country. Newsflash to smokers: The world is not your ashtray. Don’t pollute.


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