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Are cigarette butts Litter?

Here is a dumb question. Why would anyone throw something out of their car window? The USA is such beautiful country. Don’t get me wrong we all have skeletons, but everyone should grow up.

I very clearly remember sitting at the traffic light on Warren Street and Park Road. I rolled down my window and tossed out a half full soda cup with the plastic cap and straw still in it. After all I was done with it. I remember as I watched the lid pop off . I was amazed as the ice and soda colored water splashed all over the road and washed cigarette butts away like tiny little boats in a race. I was not the driver of even in the front seat. I was not even wearing a seat belt. Neither was anyone else in the car for that matter. I then was startled by someone yelling “What do you think you are doing?” Oh boy I was in trouble and did not know why? This was 1967 or 1968. I was about 4 or 5 years old. For some reason my parents did not get out to pick it up. Maybe because the light had changed and people were blowing the horn.  I remember them saying (well maybe yelling) something about a sign for a ??? hundred dollar fine for littering. I wonder if they were blowing the horn at me for littering?  I also thought to myself were would I get that much money?

Many years later when I was able to drive, while coming to a stop at the very same traffic light. I saw the small faded green rectangular sign with the words peeling off, stating $300.00 fine for littering. I smiled and the scene came back so clearly. I hope that was not the only reason they were upset with me?

Now that I am 40 something (OK almost 50) I get so angry when I am driving or riding along our back roads and highways. I wonder why people can’t just wait until they get gas and use the trash can there. I do that often while filling my 36 gallon tank. It seems so easy. Several years back I came up to a stop sign on West Leesport and Old Bernville Roads. A Pennsylvania State trooper had a car pulled over. He seemed to be walking back toward me with the driver he pulled over. He held up his hand for me to wait. I thought he was going to get me for something also? He pointed to the ground beside me and made the guy pick up a cigarette butt. Thank you trooper.

Some people think that is not litter and it will disintegrate. Well that may be the fact with the Pall Mall non filters my Dad used to smoke. It is still litter in fact it is causing chemical pollution also. I have smoker friends that tell me it’s just one butt. It won’t hurt anything. I tell them next time they are at the traffic light getting onto 183 from 222, take a look to the left and see if you can count the cigarette butts on the side of the road. There are thousands of them. These will take forever to just melt into the earth. The chemicals in one butt may not be so bad. Add up thousands and you have enough chemicals to kill a horse. While on a Motorcycle trip in South Dakota we saw many charred areas along the highway some were even still on fire. How many man hours were wasted on these small fires?

Just a little litter no doubt.

3 Comments
  1. Great post, Joe. I couldn’t agree more. I lived in AZ and HI for many years. I saw more fires as a result of butts, or maybe that should be “buttheads”. ~CC in VA

    • “LIKE” Thanks, I do not smoke. Nothing is worse than picking up someones dirty cigarrette butt. One time I was watching a customer and his helper loading up the storage unit. The helper took a hit off his cigarrette, and tossed it on the ground. I walked down said how are you guys doing? Then said to the helper “Would you like if I came over to your house and P!$$ed on your porch?” He asked what do you mean? I told him I feel the same way about the butt you just tossed on the ground. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. I said next time use your ashtray.

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