Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Carol Fligor (Gazette letter, August 28) defines a public problem accurately. Widespread cigarette butts deface the unique Vineyard landscape and make us look just like the unattractive mainland. Unfortunately she is up against the last of the sacred “smokers’ rights” championed by the cigarette companies, the right to litter.
Snuffers help, but are not the answer. Those now placed where cigarettes are usually put out, such as grocery or restaurant entrances, are surrounded by fields of stale butts. Smokers don’t like looking at butt piles any more than others do, but the careful outdoor disposal of a butt doesn’t distract their minds from weightier matters. Light it, enjoy it, drop it.
Perhaps there is a clue in the reduction of bottle litter by imposing redeemable deposit fees. If a smoker had to pay a two cents extra deposit for every cigarette, redeemable on return of the butt, fewer butts might be carelessly tossed away. People who picked up many butts could reap rich rewards, and the Vineyard landscape would be cleansed.
The principle is the same. People would rather be rewarded for doing right than punished for doing wrong, But butts are not bottles, so a butt deposit law is unlikely. Until a significant number of nicotine addicts succeed in their kick-the-habit campaigns, Mount Filterttip will continue to deface our landscape.