Withering Glance: Kickin' butt on the butt flickers

  • Updated: July 12, 2013 - 2:46 PM
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Cigarette butts and more

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

CP: I feel so sorry for smokers.

 

RN: Um, OK.

 

CP: First they were ejected from offices, bars and restaurants and told to smoke outside. Now, many buildings have signs that say “Don’t you dare light up within 100 feet of this entryway.” Which puts them in the middle of the street, power-dragging a Marlboro or facing criminal charges.

 

RN: I admire your compassion. I want to dial 911 when I see drivers flick their cigarette butts out their window. Turns out, this type of toxic, nondegradable garbage is the nation’s most commonly littered item.

 

CP: Let’s not ignore the fact that this trash also is on fire.

 

RN: Thank you. The American Cancer Society’s best ad ever was an early 1970s poster. It was a close-up of a total rode-hard-and-put-away-wet woman — at least I think it’s a woman, but it’s one of those faces rendered genderless by tobacco — taking a deep drag on a cig-pie as if her life depended upon it. The caption? “Smoking is very glamorous.”

 

CP: It is glamorous. Just look at the nonstop smoking in your favorite series, “Mad Men.” I have not seen that much cigarette action since, well, any of a hundred Bette Davis movies. A lit Chesterfield was to Ms. Davis as a six-shooter was to John Wayne.

 

RN: Yes, MM’s Don Draper has definitely put the sexy back in Lucky Strike. But then you begin to wonder how his exquisitely tailored suits, Eva Gabor-worthy Park Avenue apartment and perfect Brylcreem-ed hair all smell. Make that, reek.

 

CP: The butt-tossers are everywhere. I was at a remote beach on the south shore of Lake Superior last weekend, and the sand had proved irresistible to smokers.

 

RN: Treating the glory that is Gitchi gummi as one giant ashtray. Lovely. The plastics in those butts will pollute the lake’s fragile ecosystem for decades, but, hey, who cares? They got their smokes.

 

CP: Happily, I see this less frequently than in days of yore: the parking-lot piles that indicate a driver has delicately tapped out the entire contents of his or her ashtray onto the macadam.

 

RN: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the tobacco industry spends $27 million a day on cigarette advertising. Maybe a percentage was diverted to litterbug prevention. Right.

 

CP: About 130 million butts are tossed onto Texas highways annually, says that state’s DOT. Put that stat in your pipe and smoke it.

 

RN: I would, if I weren’t so grossed out. That’s probably enough to fill the Metrodome.

 

CP: Remember, no smoking within 100 feet of Mall of America Field.

 

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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