The next time you step out your door don't look up - look down and start counting the number of butts lying around beautiful Central Oregon. Those butts are the single most littered item on the planet and they leach toxic chemicals while taking decades to decompose. Unfortunately, too many of our neighbors and visitors are making sure their butts become part of the world's nasty litter statistic.
Walk the brick path around Mirror Pond, check out the trailhead parking lot for Green Lakes, look in the flower planters on Wall Street and even take a count outside St. Charles Hospital's no smoking zone and count the butts. I could spew more words addressing brainless smokers, but I believe they probably can't or don't read and feel the world is their private ashtray. Instead, I believe the rest of us need to take a national and local stand to stop the butt litter.
1)Nationally: Stop the senseless suits of tobacco companies by smokers. Instead, create a class action suit against big tobacco for the world-wide desecration of the planet by their addicted smokers. (Yeah, I know, the tobacco lobby will always win in my lifetime...but someday our children may persevere.) The suit would require the cigarette industry to create a butt holder with every pack and assist countries around the world to clean up tobacco's legacy of butts.
2)Locally: Restrict smoking in all public places. This is already being done in many communities across the nation. Why not Deschutes County? Smokers who drop their butts would be fined $1,000 or required to pick up 1,000 butts within 5 days of the violation. The offenders would then be required to count 1,000 butts from a fellow offender to assure no shortage of butts before mailing the 1,000 Butt Bag back to a tobacco company for disposal. The butt offender would pay the cost of mailing. A publicity campaign may be enough to shame the most hardened butt thrower to keep his or her butt off the street, out of the garden container and off the trailhead.
We have made progress against second-hand smoke. It is time to remove the cigarette butt from the landscape. To paraphrase President Harry Truman, "The Butt stops here!"