Get Your Butt Out of My Face: The Politics of Cigarette Litter

Carly McIntosh

Canadians are supposed to be cleaning up their act to help protect the environment. Taking a walk on a path all you have to do is look down and you will see a cigarette butt all dried-up sitting close to your feet.  Smoking cigarettes jeopardizes your health as well as the health of the others around you.

Have you ever looked up how many chemicals are in one cigarette? There are close to four thousand chemical compounds placed in one cigarette, 69 of those chemicals are recognized to cause cancer. With the amount of chemicals placed in a cigarette, it takes the cigarette close to 24 years to decompose itself. With taking so long for a cigarette to decompose, on the streets you could find cigarettes from the early 1990s. If you collected all the cigarette butts from all across Canada, I bet you could fill the whole CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario. With picturing the amount of cigarette butts that could be placed in the CN Tower, that could be the number of people dealing with health problems due to smoking. People who smoke cigarettes are hurting themselves as well as hurting the environment around them.

The amount of cigarette butt litter thrown onto our land is putting Canadian wild life in danger as well. When cigarette butts are tossed onto our Canadian National Parks the wild life mistake it as food, and then their health is put in harm's way. Cigarette butts washing down the creeks and rivers are killing the only wild fish we have left in our country. When cigarettes are washing down the creeks and rivers hundreds of chemicals are being let loose into the water. The water we drink is bad enough, but our Canadian Wildlife have it worse. Littering cigarette butts is a reason Canadian wildlife are going extinct, don't you care?

Even when you have a family pet in your home, you are putting their health at risk as well. The cigarette smoke in your own home never clears out, the chemicals are in the air every second of the day. Having a pet they are placed in the house longer than anyone, and all they have to breath in is the chemicals from the cigarette. When you own a dog or cat their nervous system gets badly affected from the cigarette smoke, and they also develop lung cancer from second hand smoke. The chemicals coming from the cigarette smoke gives them a 60-percent chance of getting cancer.

A percentage rate of Canadian wildfires are set by people tossing their cigarette butts into the trees, and that has to stop. British Columbia and Saskatchewan have the highest rates this year of forest fires. Anyone of those fires could have been set from a cigarette butt that you threw into the trees while you were hiking or even driving by. Fires being set from a tossed cigarette make us lose a large amount of nature's trees, the habitat of wildlife. How would you feel if someone threw a cigarette butt close to your home and a fire was set?

A study has been done on whether or not cigarette smoke causes air pollution, and the answer is yes. The amount of air pollution from a cigarette is ten times greater than diesel car exhaust. In that case you could most likely drink a jug of gasoline and be healthier then to smoke cigarettes. I found that one of the most dangerous chemicals in a cigarette is Benzene, it can cause blood cancer. The chemical Benzene is often placed in gasoline as well as pesticides. Just for fun another fatal chemical in cigarettes is Tar, and yes the type of tar you drive on with your vehicle. That is just two of the dangerous chemicals placed in a cigarette. When a cigarette is lit the chemicals are being released into the air, which is making the air all around us contaminated. The pollution in the environment has to clear for Mother Earth's sake.

Stop and think for a moment, does your cigarette in your hands mean more to you than life?

Born and raised in Manitoba, Canada and now residing in Calgary, Alberta. McIntosh recently found her ancestry. Her goal is to pursue a future with writing and hopes to open some closed eyes and minds.

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