Lighting up a cigarette has become frought with challenges and even judgement in recent years.
A habit that was once a popular and adopted by many has now become socially unacceptable. You could once smoke in most places – hotels, clubs, restaurants, on public transport, virtually anywhere. These days smokers are even restricted on where they can light up in the great outdoors.
The tough regulations were prompted by concern about the health implications of second-hand smoke inhaled by non-smokers.
Graphic and somethimes stomach-churning photographs on cigarette packets aim to drive home a health message to those who choose light up.
Meanwhile, hefty taxes on cigarettes aim to hit smokers in the hip pocket in an effort to encourage them to break the habit.
Sadly it is a very addictive habit which for many is hard to break.
The good news is that in the 21st century the possibility of a non-smoker being affected by second-hand smoke is far less likely.
Unfortunately there is another challenge that has become a side effect of smoking – litter.
Too often people are seen flicking their cigarette on the ground. You only need step out onto the streets of the Southern Highlands to confirm this concerning fact with cigarette butts commonplace in gutters, public gardens and on the foot path.
According to a report from Clean Up Australia, since the first Clean Up Australia Day in 1990, cigarette butts have consistently been one of the most common items found by volunteers.
Cigarette butts may seem small, but with an estimated 4.5 trillion butts (worldwide) littered every year, the toxic chemicals add up.
What is worse is that this cigarette refuse has often not been butted out, leaving it to smoulder and potentially cause greater problems such as a fire. It is a situation that has been blamed for bush fires on several occasions.
Like any other form of litter it is a legal requirement to dispose of cigarette butts in rubbish bins or ashtrays.
So the next time you light up make sure that you consider how you will butt out when you take that final drag.
Your decision does have a potential impact on everyone else and not just through passive smoking.