Smokers should be fined everyday

I pretty much drive to work in the dark for most of the winter. I can’t complain, less traffic, I have been driving the same route for over ten years so I know it quite well by now. It is an easy 27 minute comfort zone where I can listen to a podcast and chill before either dealing with work or my family. In fact, the only thing that really pisses me off is when the driver of vehicle ahead throws a lit cigarette out of the window. It creates a little reddish/orange falling star until it hits the road in a couple of miniature explosions before dying out. I can’t understand the rational behind throwing it out of the window. You obviously smoked it in the vehicle so the smell shouldn’t be the reason so why not put it in the ash tray? The only reason I can think of is that it is easier to throw it out of the window than it is to clean up later.

That sounds like a great idea. The next time I finish drinking a water bottle or a can of soft drink I can just dispose of it through the window and no one is going to notice or care! What else can this be applied to? Fast food packaging obviously, maps that are no longer needed? What if you have a small baby that needs to have a clean diaper? What? This isn’t OK?

Let’s look at the math and stats for a moment to get a real idea of what is going on.

The average length of a cigarette is 12 cm and 1cm in diameter. Taking up a quarter of this is the filter. Smokers in general do not attempt to smoke the filter, or butt, so this is the part that has to be disposed of as it doesn’t actually go up in smoke.

According to the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) CTUMS 2010 Wave 1 Survey Results. in 2010 18% of the population over the age of 15 years old smoked. That is approximately 4.9 million Canadians. On average, daily smokers consume 15.3 cigarettes per day.

Let’s do the math: 4,900,00 smokers at 15.3 a day makes 74,970,000 cigarettes a day.

According to MacLeans, in 2005 the average commute in Canada was 63 minutes per day, or 31.5 minutes each way.

As I was unable to find an accurate number for Canadians, let’s look at the average length spent sleeping per day. According to the New York Times in November of last year, Americans spent 6.9 hours dreaming of dolphins and rainbows and Snookie. That means on average they are awake for 17.1 hours a day.

Let’s assume that for 8 hours a day work interrupts their life and during which time they are unable to smoke. This lowers the amount of time available to smoke to only 9.1 hours. Now looking at the average number of times someone smokes, 15.3, it is easy to calculate that every 36 minutes someone is smoking. This doesn’t take into account using the bathroom, eating or other activities that don’t allow for lighting up. It is simply easier to space it out during the day even if it does lessen the final numbers.

So every 36 minutes someone is lighting up, with a 31.5 minute commute each way, let’s assume that each way they smoke one cigarette.

That is 2 cigarettes per day and if they work 5 days a week, 10. Give the average working stiff 4 weeks of holidays a year, they deserve it, that leaves 48 weeks where they are working. So 48 (weeks) multiplied by 10 (cigarettes per week) gives a nice round number of 480 cigarettes smoked per year in a vehicle going to and from work. Roughly.

So 480 cigarettes per year, per smoker would result in 2,352,000,000 a year. That is 2352 million butts that nobody wants. Let’s assume that half of all drivers are conscientious and don’t dispose of any lit material through an open window while driving. That brings the number down to 1176 million. Now if you can remember the length of a filter being 30 millimetres, that makes 35280 million millimetres, or 3,528,000,000 centimetres. Let’s make this easier to imagine. Roughly 35,000 kilometers a year of cigarette butts are thrown out of windows.

This does assume that all the numbers are close to actual numbers. Due to rounding certain numbers, such as average period between cigarettes smoked, the final numbers would probably be higher, but even with the numbers on the safe side, the numbers speak for themselves.

The fine in Ontario for littering is $110. If every time someone threw a cigarette butt out of a vehicle, they were fined, $129,360,000,000 would be raised! On March 4th, 2010, CTV reported that the Canadian debt was 53.7 billion. That is $53,700,000,000 which is smaller than the money that would be raised if every act of cigarette littering from a vehicle was fined. That is a lot of loose change.

Think about it, to get out of the recession and pay off all the debts that Canada has, all that is needed is to enforce the law.

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