It’s around 7:41 AM on Thursday, September 9, 2010 and you’re driving south on Interstate 5, between La Costa Avenue and Leucadia Boulevard in your blue Mazda Protégé. Driving down the freeway, you’re obviously very interested in the cigarette you’re smoking, more than public safety, as you mindlessly continue flicking your cigarette ashes out of the open car window. After all, you wouldn’t want those stinking, dirty things in your car, even though they’re filling your body with tar, nicotine and about a hundred or more carcinogens that are roasting your lungs just as surely as a barbecue at the beach.
As you near the end of that cigarette, you take one last puff and flick it out the window. It bounces a few times, sparking, and rolls to the edge of the highway, near the unburned vegetation. Yes, the same type vegetation that you can remember we were still trying to extinguish over a week after the most devastating wildfires in San Diego County and California history. But, obviously, you don’t care much about the losses and suffering other people have endured, the toll on humans and animals, property, and the huge costs involved in fighting the fires, nor the huge task in rebuilding. Because you just tossed that lighted cigarette out the window without a second thought to what it could do to our lives and our community. You
How do I know this? Because I was the one behind you who watched your callus act and took down your vehicle description and license plate number. You see, I was a fire and accident investigator most of my working life, and I saw the results of what irresponsible people like you did to others and to our communities. Your act is a misdemeanor under California Code, as follows: CA Vehicle Code Section 23111 - No person in any vehicle and no pedestrian shall throw or discharge from or upon any road or highway or adjoining area, public or private, any lighted or nonlighted cigarette, cigar, match, or any flaming or glowing substance. A fine may be assessed up to $1000 for the first offense, which, in my opinion, is not nearly enough; given the current circumstances we face in this county and all of this state!
If you want to make an ash out of yourself, stay home and do so. You can make your own decision to smoke and discard those cigarette butts all over your living room or bedroom or wherever you like. If you don’t have the common sense or decency to use an ashtray, then it will be your home and family that suffers, not the rest of the community.
Maybe the moral here is simple. Just like drinking, if you can’t smoke responsibly, you shouldn’t drive while smoking. Stay home.