• Cigarette butts or filters are the most common form of litter in westernised countries. It is estimated 4.5 trillion end up as litter on our streets not including discarded packs and their cellophane wrappers.

    Smoked it bin it

    Keep your butt of the street.

    Cigarette filters are not biodegradable as cellulose acetate, a form of plastic is one of the components that make up the butt and never breaks down. A high number of these filters which contain hundreds of harmful chemicals are swept into the water system were the poisons leak out. Carelessly discarded cigarette butts are also the main cause of house and forest fires the world over. We only have to look at the huge forest fires outside Los Angeles in May 2007 to show the needless destruction of natural parkland around the famous Hollywood sign due to a single discarded cigarette butt.

    Fish, birds, animals and even children have been known to eat these filters inadvertently causing blocked digestive and excretory systems, poisoning and even death, all are which are preventable if the filters were deposited responsibly in ashtrays by the smoker, instead of discarded on the ground.

    The tobacco industry could also implement steps to minimise the effects of discarded filters on the environment from printing ‘Do not litter’ slogans on packs or even on the cigarette itself. This can be done in words or pictures as on most confectionary items.

    The tobacco industry could also invest some of their huge cash profits into a program of supplying ‘personal ashtrays’ with every pack of cigarettes or sell them as they do lighters or even build into the design of a lighter a holder for cigarette filters.

    Unfortunately the tobacco industry seems to think the best course of action is to maintain a low profile while working to exempt cigarettes from coverage of pending litter control legislation. It believes the courtesy should be limited to the smoking of, rather than the disposal of tobacco products and by backing any fees or taxes to help clean up cigarette litter, they would be buying into the social cost argument against smoking.

    cigarette street litter

    Although a ‘no-litter’ campaign might be useful to tobacco companies, they would never be implemented before comprehensive cost/benefit analysis had taken place. It is obvious the tobacco industry cares little for the environment against their bottom line. However, governments and public opinion could open the eyes of these corporations and hit them were it hurts if anti- littering laws were upheld and the tobacco industry were to foot the bill for cleaning up our streets and water supply.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-LewTyGEeY

    The medical and scientific evidence of tobacco smoking is widely known as a major cause of cancer and premature death. However what is not publicized is the effect the tobacco industry has on the earth’s protective ozone layer.

    In the farming of tobacco, Methyl Bromide is used to fumigate soil. This gas is odourless, highly toxic and kills all living organisms. Over 5.5 million pounds of the substance is applied annually to tobacco crops. The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as one of the most lethal of acutely toxic pesticides. Those who come into contact with it can suffer poisoning, neurological damage and reproductive harm.  It also destroys the ozone layer. The depletion of the ozone layer leads to more global warning, increased skin cancer and eye cataracts from UV-B radiation. Couple this with the amount of chemical laden smoke released daily into the air and forest fires caused by carelessly deposited cigarette filters and vicious cycle starts to appear.

    Over 450 pesticide products are registered in the USA alone for the use on tobacco crops. Approximately 90% of American-style tobacco is now grown by farmers in 78 countries outside of the USA and the US are now the largest importer of tobacco. This has had a huge effect on small farming, family communities throughout the US. The majority of these small farms have long gone after being sold to large companies. Some 500,000 existed in the 1950’s, today around 85,000 struggle for survival. The tobacco companies blame the reduction of domestic tobacco demands on the decline of cigarette sales. However this 4-5% reduction does not compare to the 35% reduction in purchasing home grown tobacco.

    Developing countries now produce the majority of American style tobacco. The crops are grown on small independent farms, under strict contracts with the corporations, which provide all inputs through a carefully controlled system of loans and credits. The tobacco companies provide credit for the farmers to build drying sheds to cure the tobacco leaf after harvest. This debt can take many years to repay and during this period farmers are also buying seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from the company increasing the debt burden.

    Farmers are paid for the crop according to the quality of the harvest. In years of drought and other extreme weather conditions that seem to be more prevalent every year, crops can be destroyed forcing the farmers into selling the farm to pay back debts to the corporation and moving to the cities and favelas.

    Ironically the amount of land currently used to grow tobacco worldwide could instead be used to feed 10 to 20 million people. When good farmland is diverted to grow tobacco crops, governments may find themselves facing local food shortages and bearing the additional cost of importing food.

    To ensure the continues high profit margins tobacco companies ruthlessly pursue, millions of pounds of toxic chemicals are used on millions of acres of land worldwide, land that could be or was once used to grow food. The global epidemic of the tobacco industry not only endangers smokers, it also threatens tobacco farmers and their families, pollutes the air we breathe, destroys insects and micro organisms at the bottom of the food chain, depletes the ozone layer that protects us, contaminates soil and poisons the water supply. We all should question the sustainability and sanity of the tobacco industry.

    Click here For more information about cigarette litter and the environment.

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  • Saturday 9 April 2005 Perry

    Wrote the lyrics for The Smoking Man. I know how the music should go; I can hear it in my head. I should never have sold my Les Paul! Will have to meet up with MS to write and record music when I get time. We had fun last time working together on the Elvisesq songs for my short film ‘King of Kommunication’ that is still in production limbo.

    The Smoking Man

    Lyrics – Perry Stevens

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    No gun to my head

    Money in my hand

    I sell contradiction

    To feed your addiction

     

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    Rebellion is confusion

    Freedom is illusion

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    And I can’t change the world

    But I can change the world in me

    And I gotta let you know

    Gotta show corporate hypocrisy

     

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    No gun to my head

    Money in my hand

    I don’t want to be held to blame

    When the world goes up in flames

     

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    Millions dead or live in pain

    This hell on earth is so insane

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    And I can’t change the world

    But I can change the world in me

    And I gotta let you know

    Gotta show corporate hypocrisy

     

    We live and we die

    By the choices we make

    To stand aside or hide

    From the truth would be a mistake

    (and I gotta let you know)

     

    No sex, no colour

    No race, no creed

    Killing your customers

    Is greed, greed, greed

     

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    No gun to my head

    Money in my hand

    Blackened lungs or amputee

    Death releases us from misery

     

    I’m the man

    I’m the man

    I’m the smoking man

    Nicotine delivery is the business

    Y’all burn in hell with God as your witness

    Copyright Perry Stevens  April 2005 All rights reserved.

    You can watch my short film ‘King of Kommunication’ here. Enjoy; )

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUvzcyKipRo

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  • August 2004 Perry

    I’ve been writing a feature and some shorts and looking for funding for sometime but after watching Michael Moore Fahrenheit 9/11 I have decided to get my teeth into something that could make a difference.

    I liked Fahrenheit 9/11 but didn’t think it came anywhere near the brilliance of Bowling for Columbine. That film really blew me away. I’ve been looking for subject matter for a while from Toxic Shock Syndrome to Mothers Against Guns, worthy subjects but mostly alien to me. Then it struck me like a bolt out of the blue, smoking or more precisely tobacco!

    I’ve been working in and around the industry since 2001 even though I don’t smoke. But what angle to go on? Everybody knows smoking kills. What if I smoke 40 cigarettes a day for a month and see how it affects my general health from the condition of my skin, sperm count, ability to exercise etc. I discarded that idea for several reasons, the first being the release of ‘Super Size Me’ and the comparisons it would have levelled against it and secondly I really don’t think I could smoke a cigarette every twenty or so minutes or my waking day. (I’d really struggle with one).

    I have decided to investigate the tobacco industry. I think this is a broader subject with worldwide appeal and consequences. Maybe it will have a positive effect and redeem me in some small way from the guilt I feel working for the industry that brings suffering and death to millions of people across the planet.

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