My Turn, Your Turn: Cigarette butts

By Gary McNair - bio|email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Many of you will remember my predecessor at this station, the Late Karl Davis.  He absolutely hated cigarette butts.  He did a number of commentaries on the issue. He was also supportive of the efforts to get receptacles posted downtown.

I was reminded of his passion on this issue when I got an email from his wife.  As Kathleen Baylies pointed out, not only are cigarettes a problem in the downtown area, they're also a big issue at the beach.

"The sheer numbers of butts are amazing," wrote Baylies.  "Smokers turn the beaches into one big ashtray.  Nothing like spending the day on the beach sitting and swimming with left over butts all over the place."

It's pretty easy to assign blame on this issue - it all goes to the smokers.

Unless littering tickets are issued for flicking butts, the problem will continue.  And unless the smokers get better at disposing their butts at the beach, officials could be forced to prohibit smoking on public beaches, and I'm okay with both of those solutions.

That's my turn, and a little of Karl's and Kathleen's turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed viewers' response:

Being a former smoker myself, it's easy to see the smoker's view on this subject.  "Why are you pointing fingers at me flicking cigarette butts when there are others out there littering trash such as soda cans and paper?"  On the other hand, being a nonsmoker for several years, I can understand the importance of keeping our Earth clean of litter including cigarette butts and other trash.

Once the facility I work at enforced smoking in certain areas I started to realize the effect I had on others with my smoking habbit and my littering.  I looked around at all the butts we were leaving lying around and thought how nasty it made the grounds look.  They were nice enough to set up butt containers and signs, which made the transition easier for all involved.

I believe if signs were put up and cannisters were placed around and about, people would be more prone to put their butts away rather than flick them.


I agree about the issues of cigarette butts.  People that smoke are more likely to flick the butts where the may than someone with other sorts of trash.  I dont think the issue of getting smokers to really stop unless the law catches them, really helps.  Tax them a litter tax on all tobacco products.  It must go up every year.  With a survey done around the state to see if its helping, then if not keep pushing the tax upwards.  Use someone like NC Dept of Agriculture to help regulate the tax.  Use the tax for cleaning waterways, streets, road repair, etc.

Theres always good ideas for this.  I grew up on a tobacco farm, and seen it die out here in NC.  We import most of the tobacco we get from Brazil and Africa.


For many years, I have carried in my purse or pocket,  a small metal pillbox.  These are available at most drug stores, are inexpensive, and make a perfect portable ashtray.  Just open the lid, pry out the plastic divider with a small screwdriver or nail file, and there is your ashtray.  Empty into trash can, or your trash bag at the beach.  Please be responsible, smokers, or we are going to have nowhere to smoke!  Use your car ashtray so you don't start brushfires.


I am not a smoker and not only detest cigarette smoke but am allergic to it.  However, I understand freedoms--and that mine end where yours begin (and vice versa).  So while I would love to live in a smoke-free county (and world!), I don't believe the government or state should regulate everything.

That being said, I implore smokers everywhere: please don't empty your car ashtray at every intersection in town!!!  That is the HEIGHT of inconsideration and the worst littering!


I firmly believe that smoking on the beach should be BANNED. I am a former smoker and would like to see NO butts on the beach!!!!!

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