I Am Not a Butt Guy

Those who know me most likely expected my first-ever blog to be about music. The Beatles, Dylan, or Ryan Adams (look him up). Or hockey (the Bruins), baseball (Sox(Red)), or football (Pats). And those topics all will come (presuming, of course, that this blog is allowed to continue).

Instead, I want to address something that has been on mind for a long time. Butts. Cigarette butts. As a passionate never-smoker, I have spent many an argument trying to convince anyone who will listen (1) never to smoke (if they don’t already) or to quit (if they do) and (2) if they must smoke, to dispose of their butts responsibly.

The first argument is simple: Cigarettes are the only product that I know of, that when used as directed, will kill you. Guns, alcohol and motorcycles all have responsible uses and can serve important functions. The above claim actually needs to be qualified: Cigarettes are the only LEGAL product that is designed to kill their consumers. To be clear, if cigarettes did not exist today and were invented tomorrow the FDA never could or would approve them. It is difficult for many of you to believe it, but cigarettes used to be so commonplace that newscasters would smoke on air during live broadcasts, passengers could smoke on airplanes, and students could smoke in their dorms (sorry, residence halls). There is good reason why this doesn’t happen any more! We got better information and used that information to make better decisions and better policies. Yet we stopped short of making cigarettes illegal. And I am not naïve enough to believe that I will ever see the day when we do.  So I am pushing for the next best thing:  a butt-free landscape.

Am I the only one who gets absolutely infuriated when someone flicks a butt on the ground? We would not tolerate such rampant pollution of anything else; why do we tolerate this? We have done a fairly good job of getting people to recycle paper, plastic and glass; why can’t we get people to dispose of their butts properly? We need to dust off the old concept of a citizen’s arrest (when is the last time you heard of one?) and start cracking down on these environmental terrorists (ouch!). And today, it is easier than ever – all you need is your cell phone. Start snapping away (video will work, too) and then we can post these pictures for the world to see. We can even start locally. Maybe The Rider News will start of a photo blog of offenders. On a campus this size, that might be just enough pressure to force a change of habit.

Don’t smoke. But if you must, use an ashtray.

Dr. Jonathan Millen
Associate Dean, Liberal Arts

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