There aren't a lot of legal vices I'm strictly intolerant of. There are a lot I wouldn't necessarily take up myself, but for the most part, I try to have a "to each his own" philosophy. What business is it of mine if someone wants to sit in their home watching Internet porn while downing a 12-pack of Mountain Dew?
But there is one lawful behavior I have absolutely zero tolerance for: Smoking. I unapologetically hate everything about it.
For starters, I hate the smell. On the rare occasion I'm around smokers, I always leave feeling like my clothes and hair were used to scrub the inside walls of chimney. Even if I'm only exposed to the toxic air for a minute or two, the effects linger. I feel dirty. My eyes itch for days, my tongue seems to swell and I swear my fingernails and teeth turn a shade yellow.
Then of course there's the health angle, not just for those with a fondness for black lungs, but everyone they are around sucking in their secondhand smoke. I really do believe smoking leads to other drugs. Mostly chemotherapy.
For those that whine they are addicted, I have little sympathy. Why you would start such a nasty habit in the first place is beyond me. And there are loads of options to help people quit, not the least of which is a little willpower. My grandparents smoked for over 50 years. They started long before anyone knew it was bad for them. When they came to my high school graduation and wanted to hug me after I received my diploma, I refused.
But even with this list of offenses, there's something I hate even more about those desperate for a puff.
What I find most upsetting is the careless disregard of many smokers who casually flick their still-burning cancer sticks out of their line of vision once they've gotten their fix.
While littering is bad enough, (it's estimated close to two billion pounds of cigarette butts end up as litter each year), my disdain goes far beyond the unsightliness of a smoker's laziness. (Seriously, how far can a trashcan be?) This method of disposal is also dangerous in a number of ways.
Since almost all cigarettes sold today are filtered, cigarette butts are not biodegradable. The filters are made of cellulose-acetate, a form of plastic. Additionally, cigarette butts are repositories for a number of toxic chemicals, including benzene and cadmium. So when they find their way into storm drains and other water sources, they leak those toxins, killing wildlife and contaminating water supplies.
Judging by how many smokers I see tossing their butts on the ground each day, I can only assume smokers can live without water and wildlife.
But it's doubtful they can survive a raging fire. Which is another thing they often cause.
And I'm particularly outraged right now given the recent devastating wildfire just a few miles from here. While I am aware this fire was caused by lightning, not a discarded cigarette butt, it should be a pretty obvious warning that conditions are dry and it doesn't take much to burn up a hillside.
One would think this might be fairly obvious, but apparently those who smoke have singed a few brain cells and need it pointed out. I say this because this summer I have witnessed an extraordinary number of careless smokers flicking their still-burning butts into a ditch. Many of whom are being paid to do so. These are the road construction crews patching up and expanding the streets in our town.
While it's certainly not OK for anyone to do this, I take particular offense to someone flirting with a citywide disaster while on the job for that city. I have driven by a number of construction sites in recent weeks, and nearly all of the workers have a cigarette hanging out of their mouths. Something we've already established I find disgusting. But as I've obeyed their rules and slowed down or stopped when instructed, I've also noticed them carelessly tossing their still scorching butts into a ditch filled with dry sagebrush. And each time they do, I silently threaten to shove one of their orange barrels in a place that would make their proctologist's job much easier.
I have no idea why it's not a company policy they can't smoke on the job. It is in most work places. But if nothing else, it should be mandatory you can't actively try to burn down the town you're working in.
These people already breathe in fumes that smell like a jammed laser printer had sex with a gas station. I don't know why they also insist on further polluting their lungs by chain smoking. If they want to smoke their own coffin nails in their home, that's one thing. But putting an entire town at risk, while on the clock, is quite another. And I have no tolerance for it.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.