Let me begin with a disclaimer: What follow is not true of all smokers. In fact, most of the smokers I know are very much not like this. But I strongly suspect we will all know exactly who these particular offenders are. The signs will be your head nodding along as you read this, or your fingers starting to, on their own accord, clench into the angriest of fists if you’re actually shouting out loud, “Yes! Morons!” before you get to the end of this piece, then this disclaimer is not for you.
I should also probably add that I grew up in a very different time. When smoking was seen as cool and it was the norm. Cigarette companies made the very best of ads showing us all that being a smoker equated to being a rally driver or an excellent skier and that it definitely was the reason all those smoking hot women (and smoking, hot women) were lining up in the club to be with you.
It’s not like that any more. Times have changed and now the smokers are the pariah and have been pushed to the fringes of society. We get to do the looking down our noses at them, and they for the most part keep to the side and stay out of trouble.
Except they don’t, do they?
Exhibit A: the freely distributed second-hand gift of death
A little too dramatic, you think?
Well yes, and no. This has certainly been attended to largely by the fact that smokers are not able to smoke in nearly as many places as they used to be. And it was definitely more in the days of the free-for-all where a smoker could sit next to you at a bar and pretty freely blow smoke in your direction. Which I have never understood. Especially when studies started to emerge that pointed to second-hand smoke being even more deadly than taking it in directly. “Excuse me while I blow some potential cancer in your face!” Except they would rarely ask, and it was often just a given.
I imagine the same person may have had some sort of a problem with me if I had sat next to them on a bar stool one day and then suddenly turned to them and spat directly in their face. Oh, and did I mention that I had a spit-borne disease? Whole different story and social norm, right? And yet, in many ways, pretty much the same thing.
The ‘polite’ request of, “Sorry, but do you mind if I smoke here?” hardly that far removed from the idea of me turning to someone at a social gathering and saying, “Would you mind if I proceeded to empty this bucket of rooting fish in your lap?”
Exhibit B: if it has my lip prints on it, it’s not littering
This is a phenomena I truly don’t understand. To be honest, I just struggle to get my head around the okayness of any form of littering. But this feels like all of that, plus.
And it seems to be largely car-enduced. Sure, there have been times when you see a smoker walking in front of you and they casually toss their butt into the street. That happens. But more often than not, it seems to be while you are driving behind a car, sometimes at pace but more normally at a traffic light, that the hand appears out the window and flicks the cigarette butt into the road.
In what universe…
In which culture…
In whose norm…
…is that kind of behavior possibly okay?
I’ll give you a clue. The answer is NO-ONES! As in never ever ever is it okay. It’s just not.
And the best part is that i don’t think they see it as littering. (Forget fire hazard, let’s not even go there, although that does add a more sinisterly illegal kind of flavor to this whole thing). I don’t know how I know this, but I do. It’s just one of those coming of age gut feeling knowledges that life bestows upon you…
It’s like their lives are divided into two categories:
[A] things that might be considered litter and put into rubbish bins, and,
[B] cigarette butts!
There is something inside of them giving them the signal that this kind of behavior is alright. Even normal.
Anyone’s fingers clenching?
News Flash miscreant. It is NOT okay!
Your smoking near me and sending your smoke in my direction, politely requested or not, is an unwanted, literally in my face affront.
And your tossing finished cigarettes out of your car window is littering. It is illegal. It is wrong. It is every kind of pathetic and infuriating and it needs to stop.
It needs to stop now.
And no butts.