November 23, 2009
Chad Love: Don't Be a Fishing Butthead
By Chad Love
I'm not a smoker, so I've never pondered the question of what to do with my cigarette butts while out fishing. However, if the number of butts I see bobbing along the surface of the water is any indication, many smokers don't ponder either, they just take one last drag and flick it. After all, it's a just a little cigarette butt, right?
Well, no. In fact, according to this story cigarette butts are highly toxic to fish.
From the story:
Cigarette butts, one of the most ubiquitous forms of garbage in the world, have been found to be toxic to saltwater and freshwater fish. Even with a small amount of unburnt tobacco clinging to it, a single cigarette butt soaked for a day is enough to turn a liter of water a sickly yellow brown and kill 50 percent of fish swimming in it. Without tobacco, it takes about 4 smoked filters to do the same job. That's a lot of butts in a small area, and the research team that conducted the laboratory study, led by Elli Slaughter of San Diego State University, is quick to point out that no research has been done yet to test how much poison leaches from butts into ponds, lakes, streams and the ocean. Still, humans are inadvertently carpeting the planet in cigarette butts. According to one estimate, some 4.5 trillion filters from spent smokes make their way into the environment every year. When immersed in water, each one becomes a time-released capsule of compounds like nicotine, cancer-causing benzenes, heavy metals and other dangerous compounds.
Now I'm not anti-smoking or anything and I don't wig out when someone lights up around me. I grew up with two chain-smoking parents and I figure if I survived to adulthood while living in a nicotine cloud it's no big deal. Hell, you only really need one lung, anyway, right?
But I've always disliked cigarette butts: they're ugly, they're nasty, they litter the environment and whenever I see one I get this mental image of a pair of nasty, tobacco-stained lips. I know, it's creepy...
So this gives me one more reason to hate them a little more. But that's just me. What do all you smokers think? Would you stop flicking those butts if you knew it killed fish?