We’ve all seen it before. A car blazes down the highway, a window rolls down, and out flies a cigarette butt. In some cases, you can see it still smoking, the bright red embers scattering all over the road and landing in the grass by the side of the road.
It’s inconsiderate, bad for the environment, and, of course, illegal. But that doesn’t stop some people from thinking that the law doesn’t apply to them, as a recent story from British Columbia illustrated.
Del Manak is the Chief of Police for the city of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, and he has no tolerance for lawbreakers. When he recently spotted a driver going a bit above the speed limit, he already had enough cause to stop the motorist.
But it was what happened next that really got on his nerves.
Completely oblivious to the fact that the Chief of Police was right behind him, the driver rolled down his window and let fly his still-burning cigarette butt. He would come to regret that decision pretty quickly!
575 reasons to not throw your lit cigarette out the car window in front of @vicpdcanada. Happened in front of me on the hwy. When asked why, driver replied, “I didn’t want my car to burn” as he pointed to his cup holder in console. My response, “Then don’t smoke in your car.” pic.twitter.com/FhAGJHYX7w
— Del Manak (@ChiefManak) June 9, 2019
When Chief Manak pulled him over, he asked the driver what possible reason he could have for doing such a disgusting and dangerous thing. The lame response he received was so indicative of the driver’s carelessness that Manak went on Twitter to share it. “I didn’t want my car to burn.”
Of course, that wasn’t really Manak’s problem, and his response was simple: “then don’t smoke in your car.”
This was accompanied by what Manak called “575 reasons not to throw your lit cigarette out the car window” in front of the police—a $575 ticket that would hopefully help the driver remember to never do it again.
Chief Manak’s tough action delighted most people on Twitter, especially his fellow chief at the Saanich Fire Department, Dan Wood. “A strong message and
$ouch will certainly have this driver rethinking options for safely disposing lit cigarettes.”
One Twitter commenter however claimed that the chief was abusing his power for personal enjoyment. “Stupidest tickets ever. Sometimes I think you guys are drunk with power,” Gordon Holmes tweeted in response.
The chief simply said, “not buying it,” explaining that the amount of the fine was set by law, not by him. “I actually did use some discretion. I could have also written him a $138 speeding ticket.”
Lots of Twitter users let the chief know they were on his side and had no sympathy for the litterbug or his defenders.
As one Twitter user RGelderman posted, the driver’s attitude showed how selfish and rude the thought process behind littering is. “Yeah don’t want to burn my car, but hey let’s light the world on fire.”
One commentator, Dixongenuous, noted that the province has suffered devastating forest fires in the past, some of them started by small cigarette butts just like the one that the driver in question tossed out the window. “I see people do this in Kelowna still… The same Kelowna that had 30,000 people evacuated from a wildfire in 2003.”
According to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation, cigarette-caused wildfires as of 2017 “result[ed] in over $2 billion in costs associated with putting these fires out, and $6 billion in loss of property.”
As though that weren’t a good enough reason not to throw butts out the window, there’s also the environment to consider. Just last year, scientists at Imperial College in London published a report that showed the devastating effects of smoking on the plant.
As researcher Dr. Nick Voulvoulis said to Phys.org, “The environmental impacts of cigarette smoking, from cradle to grave, add significant pressures to the planet’s increasingly scarce resources and fragile ecosystems.”