Updated: Aug 9, 2022
These days, almost every buddy group has at least one smoker. If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of them! Everybody has different reasons and stories behind why they started smoking, but it’s also true that most who take on this habit wish to quit at some point.
Not only does smoking damage your health, but also causes grave harm to the environment. Cigarette waste is deemed one of the biggest causes of plastic pollution the world over! While quitting the habit altogether is one of the best preventive methods, it is a process of trials and errors. Though this should be top of your bucket list, you can begin by first identifying your smoking type. Your smoking patterns usually determine how much you smoke, and play a big role in helping you make a change.
Read on, to identify what type of smoker you & your friends might be, and for some fun, practical solutions to help you reduce the impact of this habit:
1. The Chai-Sutta Buddy: The chai-sutta buddy is always the most sought after and loved friend. Planning a catch-up with them takes minimum effort. All you need is a good cup of cutting and their favourite brand of cigs at hand! Then, the conversations just flow effortlessly! If you ever ask them why they enjoy this routine so much, brace yourself for a passionate tale of how chai and sutta together can be the happiest joy of life. If you are also a big fan of your chai-sutta routine, you can make the most of it while also being conscious of how you dispose of your waste once that cup of tea and last drag ends.
Resist the urge to immediately stub your cigarette on the ground. Instead, use your empty cigarette packet to store the used butts. This is a great way of avoiding your share of irresponsible cigarette waste and ensures that you reuse the packet too, before discarding it. Once you’ve collected enough butts, you can always choose to send them to a recycling/upcycling service in your city. Your cigarette packs are also recyclable, so that’s a sure win-win!
2. The Chain Smoker:
The most targeted in any anti-smoking campaign is the chain smoker. Chain smokers are those who are strongly addicted to the nicotine kick they derive from smoking. Such smokers tend to fall in the ‘a pack a day’ category and are probably the largest contributors to personal cigarette waste.
For chain smokers, the best solution to curb their habit, as well as subsequent waste, is to keep an active track of their consumption. A good way to do that is to keep a marked box, mason jar or bin both at all of your most frequented places during a single day. This includes your home, your car and even your workplace. Every time you light up that cigarette, remember to simply add the extinguished butt to this jar. At the end of the week or month, do a review of the amount of waste you have collected. The results you see may just be the jolt required to help you cut back. This is also a highly useful technique to reduce waste from mindless disposal.
3. The ‘Only At Parties’ Gang:
Formally known as social smokers, their habits may be infrequent but they still stand at a high risk of causing damage to their health. Social smokers tend to only be triggered by certain settings, a fixed crowd or activity such as alcohol consumption. If you are a social smoker too, it may be far easier for you to give up smoking altogether than a chain smoker. An effective way to avoid a trigger is to reduce your interaction with tempting opportunities. For example, if you are aware that drinking increases your craving for a cigarette, try curbing your alcohol intake for a while. Such small adjustments help make big changes in the long run.
Here is another pro-tip that both, party goers and hosters can follow to reduce cigarette waste on such occasions: As a host, if you are expecting smokers at your gathering, make sure to have designated & marked bins for butt disposal. Even if it’s a small house party, you can have a labelled garbage bag just for cigarette waste. This reduces littering and makes the collection process easier at the end. The next day, you can always send the gathered waste to our centres for recycling. As a party-goer, your only responsibility should be to ensure that you and your friends avoid mindless littering and cooperate with your gracious hosts’ arrangements.
4. The Bathroom Smoker:
Many smokers who may be habituated to lighting one up every morning, tend to be bathroom smokers. Such smokers usually swear by the fact that their morning bathroom routine cannot be kickstarted without lighting a cigarette first. Their day simply does not start without a few drags.
Bathroom smokers can often neglect to pay attention to how they dispose of their butts. Usually, their first choice is always to flush it down the toilet. Flushing down a cigarette has a two-fold impact. At home, this can lead to a toilet-clogging issue, cause leaks and affect your bathroom’s drainage system. Once flushed down, cigarette waste also affects the water stream, contaminating our water bodies and affecting marine life. If you too are a bathroom smoker, a simple solution for you is to always keep an ashtray or bathroom bin handy by the pot. Having a bin by your side, and easily accessible automatically increases your motivation to can the cigarette in its designated place rather than flush it down.
5. The ‘just one drag’ person:
A lot of regular or even social smokers tend to turn into ‘just one drag’ smokers usually when they’re trying to cut back or give up the habit altogether. The perceived notion that you’re not actually smoking an entire cigarette but only having one or two drags from someone else makes smokers feel less guilty for their desires. For a lot of new smokers too, this tends to become the starting point of addiction. While you may feel like your habit isn’t directly contributing to environmental damage or your health, this isn’t entirely accurate. Be it one drag or a whole cigarette, when you smoke, you expose yourself as well as the environment to harmful chemicals. In the given times, sharing a smoke with a friend or colleague can also be highly unsanitary and expose you to infections.
If you believe in staying conscious and doing your bit for the ecosystem, one solution for you is to encourage your peers and friends to dispose of their waste responsibly. You can also give yourself the responsibility of carefully managing the waste after you finish sharing it with a friend. This is also easy for those who live with other regular smokers. Including friends and making it a joint effort can always get the job done quicker.
6. The sneaky smoker:
You have to admit, almost every smoker probably started this way. Sneaky smokers, as the name suggests are those who only smoke when nobody’s watching. Most of them are closet smokers since their friends and family rarely know they have the habit. Such smokers have mastered the art of hiding their addiction. They usually smoke when alone, or with a set group of few friends.
For such smokers, their cigarette waste disposal is often a hasty decision. The cigarettes either get stubbed on the ground or thrown away in a hurry. If you fall in this category, quitting the habit begins with acknowledging the problem. If you fear family backlash, open up to a friend who can help motivate you to quit. As far as effective waste disposal is concerned, if you cannot save your butts for recycling, the next best option for you is to ensure that you always discard your cigarette waste in the nearest dustbins. When you ensure to dispose of the cigarette responsibly, it becomes easier for waste pickers & volunteers to segregate it for recycling, thus reducing your share of environmental impact.
7. The influenced smoker or The ‘but all my friends do it’ smoker:
This can often be a highly vulnerable category of smokers, as they usually tend to take up the habit under peer influences. Teen smokers usually fall under this category too, as they might take up the habit to appear more acceptable amongst their group of friends. Even at the workplace, many employees may start smoking as a way to socialise with their colleagues or managers who may be active smokers. Soon enough, this can turn into an addictive habit.
If you identify as someone who also smokes to please a certain crowd, reconsider the pros & cons of this. No person, job or social circle is worth compromising your health and wellness for. The best solution to quit lies in simply separating yourself from the groups that may influence you into the habit. Over time, you can also turn into a positive influence for these very peers, by setting a good example & discouraging them from this health-harming habit. You can also put your efforts to good use, by actively raising awareness in your peer groups and organising waste collection drives with your buddies. Plus, if really you wanna stand out, get noticed and be appreciated, why not do it by being a leader instead of a follower, right?!
8. The stressed smoker: A major part of the smoking population includes people who smoke when they’re stressed. The act of smoking gives them a sense of steadiness, and such smokers also claim that this helps them reduce anxiety. But, this is merely a perceived stress buster, since nicotine tends to have a calming effect. But, research and studies have shown that smoking can actually increase anxiety levels and depression in the long run. This is because the effect of nicotine only provides a temporary sensation of relaxation. So, when stressed smokers try to stop, the withdrawal reactions tend to drive them back to the habit.
For such smokers, the first step is to identify triggering situations. Then, try resisting the urge to smoke by finding other stress-busting alternatives such as breathing techniques & mini-meditations. If you still find it hard to quit naturally, seeking help from a medical professional or de-addiction centre can help. It will also reduce your chances of a relapse. As an added incentive, you can take up volunteering activities in your free time. Start collecting cigarette waste, or organising clean-up drives on weekends. The sense of satisfaction you get from taking positive action can help keep your stress at bay while also helping the cause of environmental safety.
9. The ‘I’m quitting from tomorrow’ guy/gal or The ‘This is my last one’ guy:
We’ve all been this person at some point right? Usually motivated by a peer, a family member, partner or friend, there comes a stage when we make up our minds to quit for good. But, giving up takes great willpower too. So, every cigarette becomes the final one, until the next and the next. Coping with any addiction or unlearning a habit is a matter of continuous attempts. Even if your heart may be in the right place, slip-ups tend to happen.
If you’ve been in this position, or are in this position right now, don’t be extremely hard on yourself. Once the intention is set, it will only be a matter of time before you achieve your goal. That being said, if the relapses are frequent, a great way to stay focused is to surround yourself with positive influences. If your friends, colleagues or peer groups are all smokers, you can take the initiative to host regular clean-up drives at work or in your society. Not only will this be a fulfilling activity, but also help increase awareness about the rising problem of cigarette waste. Tracking and collecting cigarette waste will also keep you focused on your intention to quit.
By now, you have probably identified with at least one or more categories of smokers. Usually, these types may overlap or be interconnected, as the human mind and nature keep changing. One day, you may be just a casual smoker, but soon enough may find yourself becoming a chain smoker. Ask yourself if those 5 minutes spent on a cigarette are really worth years of irreversible damage to the environment and your health. No matter what your type, the solutions are the same for everyone who is driven by the desire to do better. And what better day to make a change than today?
If you’re looking for more ways to be proactive and increase awareness about the dilemma of cigarette waste, you can contact us and become an active part of the change.