How about a super duper cigarette butt scooper?

December 31, 2000|By Dick George

SMOKERS, CAN I have a word with you?

If you want to smoke, that's your business. If that's how you want to spend your money, including all the increased prices and taxes to pay for legal settlements, anti-smoking ad campaigns, education programs and the like, fine.

It doesn't matter to me that you can't find the willpower to quit, even though many free smoking cessation clinics have been offered by employers, health insurers and public agencies. Keep right on smoking. It's a free country.

It doesn't even bother me that many of you disappear from your workspaces three or four times a day to smoke in the back parking lot or in front of the building where you work, taking more time off than non-smokers ever get.

I've heard how you do important office "networking" while you're out in the smoking area. That's a good one. I can't believe you still have employers bamboozled into thinking you have a "serious health issue" and so they have to be compassionate by not challenging you on your stupid smoke breaks. I don't care about any of that. I've resigned myself to breathing in some secondary smoke when entering or exiting big buildings. I can even hold my breath almost long enough in an elevator to avoid the foul odor captured by your hair and garments. I've accepted that your smoking will cost the rest of us some small quality of life. It's not a big deal.

Here's all I want: Stop treating your cigarette butts like they're not trash. Can you do that one small, infinitesimal thing?

You throw your butts on the pavement, stomp on them and walk away. You throw them out your car window. You throw them in the grass. You drop them on the street, like they're not trash. Many of you would never consider throwing a candy wrapper out the window or dropping a sandwich bag on the sidewalk, but to you, cigarettes are different. Pick it up. Take it with you.

I know it's asking a lot. You might have to bend. Your fingers could get dirty. Some of you are very accomplished; you've met greater challenges. Maybe this will lead you to recognize the gargantuan absurdity of sucking toxic smoke into your body for the pale pleasure of a nicotine high. But I doubt it.

Just pick up your trash.

Dick George is a writer who lives in Baldwin.

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