Sitting in the classroom thinking it’s a drag
Listening to the teacher rap just ain’t my bag
The noon bells ring you know that’s my cue
I’m gonna meet the boys on floor number two
Smokin’ in the boy’s room
Smokin’ in the boy’s room
“Smokin in the Boys Room” is a cult song from Brownsville Station in 1973. The song is about college students smoking cigarettes in the boys’ restroom in the hope of not getting caught by the school.
Then there is an old Indian classic “Main zindagi ka sath nibhata chala gaya. Har fikr ko dhuyein mein udata chala gaya” song by Mohammed Rafi from the movie Hum Dono (1961). The meaning of the song is – I followed wherever my life took me. I blew every worry into a mist of smoke.
You would have understood the context, Smoking, and Cigarettes. Probably countless other similar songs would have enriched the global music industry. I wanted to recall those specific two songs for a couple of reasons.
- Catching the boys or students at young age and
- Feeling relaxed after smoking
These reasons have probably resonated with most people who smoke. Having said that smokers will find innumerable other reasons as well. Whatever the reason, the global smoking industry is a Goliath, the market is worth approximately a trillion dollars in 2020.
Many theses have been written on the consequences of smoking and the health problems like heart disease, bronchitis, pneumonia, stroke, lung or oral cancer, etc. As per WHO, tobacco and smoking kill more than 8 million people each year.
But I am going to draw your attention to another aspect of Cigarettes.
Smoking & Cigarette Butt also kills marine animals
If we speak about the construct of the commonly used smoked paper cigarettes, the top part is made with a thin sheet of white paper folded as a narrow tube containing tobacco, the orange-colored bottom part of the cigarette holds a filter – commonly called a cigarette butt.
These filters which take about 30% length of the cigarette are made up of cellulose acetate, constituting petro-based fibers – nylon and polyester.
The purpose of keeping these filters or Cigarette butt was to reduce tar and nicotine going into the body.
Puff, Puff, Puff, and it is not gone – While the top part of the cigarette is burned, the filter i.e Cigarette Butt remains – forever.
The easiest thing for any smoker after smoking their ciggies is to simply toss outside the window, flush it down the toilet, or simply drop it on the floor and stamp on it like a Hero.
As per the estimates, roughly 6.5 trillion cigarettes are sold every year. This means about 18 billion cigarette butts are thrown every day.
Considering the small size of the cigarette butt, they are rarely picked up by the municipal authorities or taken for recycling.
Though in some countries, there is a special type of garbage bin that allows the disposal of a cigarette after its use. The top part of the bin allows smokers to extinguish the flame and drop the cigarette butt in the container.
The situation is even more severe in developing countries, where the number of smokers is increasing but effective disposal of cigarette butt remains non-existent.
Hence more often than not, the abandoned cigarette butt usually end up in the landfills or the drainage system and are slowly transported by rivers to the ocean.
The toxic chemicals from the cigarette butt slowly seep into the land & water, creating havoc on the environment. As mentioned the filters are made with a type of plastic that can take years to decompose, even as they do, they break down into microplastics, polluting the water bodies.
Thousands of marine animals are exposed to these highly toxic fragments risking their survival.
No Smoking Day is observed every year on the second Wednesday of March, which falls today i.e. March 10 in 2021. By avoiding that smoke, you will not only help your lungs but will also give relief to the planet.