Author Topic: Why is it socially acceptable to throw cigarette butts on the ground in public?  (Read 17075 times)

Guses

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Every time I encounter smokers in public, I see many of them, most even, throwing their butts on the ground when they are done. My first instinct is to scream at them to pick their stuff up but that would not solve anything and only create anger.

I was wondering if this was prevalent where you live and also why it was not a socially chastised behaviour?

How, as a society, could we change that? Obviously, not smoking would work, but more concretely, what could I do to force people to take action?

Am I off base for taking this too seriously? 

Grog

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This drives me crazy. It's the only single moment where my optimism regarding humanity is truly questioned. I can't understand how we get there, I find it so rude.

greaper007

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I feel the same way.    It's especially disheartening to be somewhere like the beach and see wads of former cigarette filters littering the landscape.     These filters take somewhere between 18 months to 10 years to biodegrade.   

One solution, smokers should smoke unfiltered cigarettes.    There's some evidence that cigarette filters cause more aggressive forms of cancers because they allow the smoker to inhale smoke in parts of the lungs that wouldn't be touched by harsh, unfiltered cigarettes.   Paper and tobacco biodegrade fairly quickly.    It would also be sort of mustachian to roll your own.

Honestly, I think it's one of the downsides of attacking smoking on the social level.    Once you make someone into an undesirable it's much easier for them to act in antisocial ways.    If we had some sort of message that said we welcome you to smoke just please do it somewhere that we don't have to smell it and dispose of your butts responsibly.    The downside is that the antisocial smoking approach has worked and a more tolerant attitude towards smoking would probably result in more people smoking especially in middle and upper class circles.

MgoSam

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Depends on where you are, my guess is that it is ok because they do it and no one calls them out on it. It kinda is the same reason with people that don't signal when driving, they do it because they don't get in trouble, if cops were to actively start pulling people over for it, people would start signalling in a hurry. If people started getting cited for littering, they would stop doing it in a hurry.

Guses

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Maybe if I wrote to my local councilor/MP maybe they would take action.

I cry a little inside every time I see litter in nature.

You are probably right that stygmatysing smoking probably reinforces antisocial behaviours.

sol

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It's not.

Also not socially acceptable to drop trou and take a huge dump next to a group of smokers who are throwing their cigarette butts on the ground in public.  Pooping in smoking areas, in my opinion, slightly improves the smell, is much faster to biodegrade, and usually stops smokers from congregating there in the future.

I recommend nighttime pooping, because even though cops never write tickets for throwing cigarette butts on the ground, they will probably arrest you for pooping in public.

Random

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Hell, I don't even thnik it is acceptable for smokers to exhale in public.

Will

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Smokers need to make sure we know they are ignorant.

drunken buddha

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Another reason why pot should be made legal and abundant - even the "roaches" are saved.

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Anatidae V

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It's not acceptable or legal in Australia, but the enforcement varies. An exhaling smoker is also exceeding air quality standards, but we don't pick them up for that... *sigh*.

Gin1984

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I feel the same way.    It's especially disheartening to be somewhere like the beach and see wads of former cigarette filters littering the landscape.     These filters take somewhere between 18 months to 10 years to biodegrade.   

One solution, smokers should smoke unfiltered cigarettes.    There's some evidence that cigarette filters cause more aggressive forms of cancers because they allow the smoker to inhale smoke in parts of the lungs that wouldn't be touched by harsh, unfiltered cigarettes.   Paper and tobacco biodegrade fairly quickly.    It would also be sort of mustachian to roll your own.

Honestly, I think it's one of the downsides of attacking smoking on the social level.    Once you make someone into an undesirable it's much easier for them to act in antisocial ways.    If we had some sort of message that said we welcome you to smoke just please do it somewhere that we don't have to smell it and dispose of your butts responsibly.    The downside is that the antisocial smoking approach has worked and a more tolerant attitude towards smoking would probably result in more people smoking especially in middle and upper class circles.
My mom is a smoker so I grew up with being around a lot of smokers.  Even when it was acceptable they threw butts on the ground again and again.  There was very little respect for others who did not like it, or the smoke you had to pass through to get in the building which is why people started "attacking" smoking.

Rural

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I've had to train the one smoker who visits us regularly about tobacco mosaic virus, especially since we have lots of woods -- tossing butts out into the understory didn't "feel" like littering.* Once he understood the very real danger to my tomato plants, though, he's been rigorous about using the coffee can we provided.


* The fire hazard is something else, but I got more mileage out of the virus, so I'm going with it,

ketchup

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Yesterday at the train station, I saw someone drop a cigarette butt down a storm drain.  Really?

GuitarStv

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Smokers are marginalized by their actions.  They know that what they're doing is bad for them.  They know that most other people don't like to be around the smoke.  They know that it's bad for other people. . .  but at the same time they're addicts looking for a fix of an extremely addictive drug.  Nobody wants to see themselves as weak, so they tend to create a fantasy world where they're either a badass rebel for smoking, or where everyone in society is out to get them because of who they are (a smoker).  Both of these mental constructs tend to involve a lack of respect for others.  Tossing cigarette butts is just a manifestation of this general lack of respect.

Guses

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I've had to train the one smoker who visits us regularly about tobacco mosaic virus, especially since we have lots of woods -- tossing butts out into the understory didn't "feel" like littering.* Once he understood the very real danger to my tomato plants, though, he's been rigorous about using the coffee can we provided.


* The fire hazard is something else, but I got more mileage out of the virus, so I'm going with it,

I did not know that TMV could infect plants through a cigarette butt. Is that made up or is there scientific evidence behind this?

It could lend credence to a potential petition for stronger butt littering control.

kallinan

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Who said it's socially acceptable?  At least I certainly don't think it is.  I always see smokers who do this as self-centered jerks.

My Mom smoked for 40 years, but I never once saw her be so disrespectful to everyone else.

LatteLaura

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Totally agree!! 

One time I was driving on a beautiful day with all the windows down when a lady driving next to me took her car ashtray that was just loaded full with butts and ash and just emptied it all onto the road.  I yelled "THAT'S DISGUSTING!" on impulse. 

My 8-year-old son was in the backseat and couldn't believe I had just yelled at someone in another vehicle, but quickly agreed with me when I told him why. 

I can't believe how rude some people are!

frugaliknowit

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Just like it has become unacceptable to not clean up your pet's poop (remember when you used to step in it constantly in city parks...!), there need to be laws and enforcement.

I am so impressed when I see someone put out a cig on the bottom of their shoe, hold onto it until it cools, then throw it in the garbage...rare indeed!

mak1277

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I think we take our cues from those around us.  I'm a former smoker, and naive as this sounds, it never occurred to me that dropping my butt on the sidewalk was an issue.  "Everyone" who smokes does it.  If there was an ashtray or smokers outpost available, I would use that, but if I was walking down the street and finished a smoke, I'd drop it and step on it.

But in all my years of smoking nobody ever gave me grief about it...looking back this sounds silly, because it's clearly littering, but for those years it just wasn't something I ever thought about.

AH013

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I remember asking people I knew who smoked why they threw their butts on the ground.  The most cited answer was entitlement.

The way they viewed it, they spent ~$7 for a pack of cigs, and something like $5 of that was taxes, so at like $0.25 of tax per cigarette, they were paying for society to clean up the butts.........right.....cause those taxes aren't mainly there to pay for medical services for smokers who burn all their money (literally) and then expect society should give them lung transplants, tracheostomy, cancer treatments, diabetes supplies, bypasses, and other medical procedures that cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollar for free 'cause they "can't afford medical insurance*"
(*cause they already spent $200/month on smokes)

Rollin

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Here all you have to do is look out your car window at an intersection with a median curb and literally see hundreds of butts (unless it has rained hard recently and "cleaned" them out).  The butts go down the storm drain and many times right out into an open water body.  Some of the local marine institutes have done necropsies and found cig-butts inside manatees, turtles, etc., with some choking on them (mostly the turtles on plastic bags though since they thing they are jellyfish).

I don't think anyone says anything to the smokers because they will get a tongue lashing back (no one seems to like to be told what to do here and it's killing us in many ways).  Near my building I have thought of putting up a sign that would get their attention:  SMOKERS UNITE!  Then in much small type I would write, "by putting your cig-butts in a proper receptacle please."

dude

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FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!  This is an absolute Kryptonite issue for me --- I'm powerless NOT to get psychotically angry about it!  I've been to some of the most beautiful places in the world, natural places where the splendor and grandeur of God's work takes center stage and renders you speechless . . . only to look down and see a tossed butt on the ground.  I seriously want to harm these people, in sadistic and torturous ways.  I can't help it.  Like I find myself wishing they would hurry up and get cancer and die.  Terrible, I know, but the callousness and aplomb with which these people toss their trash anywhere they damn please is to me one of the most maddening things I've ever encountered.  Anyone old enough to remember when smoking was allowed pretty much EVERYWHERE can remember walking through places like the grocery store, where snuffed out butts littered the aisles.  What the fuck is wrong with these people?

<rant off>

hybrid

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I wouldn't use the term socially acceptable, I would use the term tolerated. Most people, including myself, just aren't willing to risk a confrontation over a cigarette butt. Smoking stopped being socially acceptable in Richmond, home of Philip Morris, years ago. And yet 20% of Americans still smoke. Many are older, long term addicts, and the younger ones seem to be the rebels without a clue.

Will

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I've been tempted many times when I see someone throw a cigarette butt out a car window to pick it up, go to their window and say "Here, you dropped this!" and hand it back to them.

soccerluvof4

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I've been tempted many times when I see someone throw a cigarette butt out a car window to pick it up, go to their window and say "Here, you dropped this!" and hand it back to them.



This ! and how many times they have caused fires. I think this is something law enforcement needs to fine more often and heavily. I dont claim to know statistics on this but I can honestly say i never heard of anyone at least that i know get a ticket for tossing out a window or tossing on ground.

shelivesthedream

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You can be fined for littering in England but I doubt that anyone ever is.

I think it is mainly to do with the fact that there are already cigarette butts on the ground, so what's one more? No one will confront you because it's not like yours is the first one on a virgin glacier or anything like that. It's just a gutter full of them. I do wonder if it's a personality thing, though - those who smoke and likely to correlate with those who litter. They poison the air so why not the street?

I have the same question about something else, though: Why do so many people spit in the street these days? I feel like it is a lot more prevalent than ten years ago and it is just disgusting! I practically have to pick my ways through the gobs of spittle just to walk down the pavement.

DeepEllumStache

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I was once riding my bike and came up to stop at a red light.  The passenger in the car next to me tossed her cigarette butt out the car window, not noticing that I was there.  I yelled in shock as the thing dropped into my lap.  The lady was apologetic but I doubt that stopped her from tossing it the next time she smoked a cigarette.

hermoninny

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It's especially fun when your 1 yo picks up a cigarette butt and first thing she does is reach to put it in her mouth.  And, a few minutes later, a smoker throws a butt on the ground and DOESN'T EVEN EXTINGUISH IT.  I freaked out that my daughter was going to try to pick that one up, too, as it was still burning and smoking.  I stepped on it, used a leaf to pick it up (because, EW), and threw it away.

I wish I had the courage to say something to the guy, but I'm scared of the rage that LA people have, so I just passive aggressively said in a not-so-quiet voice how disgusting it was and couldn't people see that THERE WERE KIDS AROUND (we were actually at a kiddie attraction, so mine weren't the only kids around - there were hundreds.)

Worsted Skeins

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I've been tempted many times when I see someone throw a cigarette butt out a car window to pick it up, go to their window and say "Here, you dropped this!" and hand it back to them.

I have a weird passive aggressive neighbor who turned another neighbor's property into her ashtray when third neighbor had to go out of town for a family emergency.  I was picking up their mail for them and witnessed the growing pile of butts.  Before the good neighbors returned, I went out with my latex gloves to pick up the crap.  I was so tempted to leave the bag of butts of with idiot neighbor--Hey, you lost these!  But I figured that my yard would become her next ashtray. 

We are coastal people--there is an estuary at the end of my street.  It boggles the mind to think that some people are so damn ignorant. 

Mr. Frugalwoods

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I pity them.  At this point, the only folks who smoke are the truly awfully addicted... and those that just aren't very bright.  Either way it's a sad situation.

Rural

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I've had to train the one smoker who visits us regularly about tobacco mosaic virus, especially since we have lots of woods -- tossing butts out into the understory didn't "feel" like littering.* Once he understood the very real danger to my tomato plants, though, he's been rigorous about using the coffee can we provided.


* The fire hazard is something else, but I got more mileage out of the virus, so I'm going with it,

I did not know that TMV could infect plants through a cigarette butt. Is that made up or is there scientific evidence behind this?

It could lend credence to a potential petition for stronger butt littering control.


I don't know for sure about the filters themselves, but if there's a molecule of tobacco left, yes, there's likely to be virus, also in the saliva of the smokers, as it turns out:


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22959216

Zamboni

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I pity them.  At this point, the only folks who smoke are the truly awfully addicted... and those that just aren't very bright.  Either way it's a sad situation.

True.  All of the kids today are much too occupied texting with both thumbs to hold a cig.  Smokers are a dying breed in more ways than one, so the problem will solve itself.

greaper007

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I'm not a fan of cigarette smoke, but I don't get all marginalization of people that choose to smoke.   They're paying considerably higher rates for insurance so I can't really complain about that.    They also use less in insurance money over a lifetime than healthy non-smokers.   I don't really care that people smoke if it doesn't invade my space.   And considering that I haven't been to a bar in 10 years where people can smoke, it doesn't really invade my space that much.    I think the butts on the ground thing is more related to being a douche bag than a smoker.

Everyone is also failing to see a very important member of the smoking tribe.    The early 20s female college smoker.    Say what you will, but I always found that this group was considerably more friendly to my advances in my single days.    For some reason they always seemed to be more social and accommodating, and I really did appreciate the attention.   All my firsts were with smokers, from kisses to actual sex.   

sol

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The early 20s female college smoker.    Say what you will, but I always found that this group was considerably more friendly to my advances in my single days.

I think the word you are looking for is "slutty" and yes, I agree that all of the early 20s female smokers I have been with were slutty.

Quote
All my firsts were with smokers, from kisses to actual sex.   

They also tasted like ashtrays.

Mod Edit: Rude and unnecessary generalization.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 10:51:53 AM by arebelspy »

greaper007

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The early 20s female college smoker.    Say what you will, but I always found that this group was considerably more friendly to my advances in my single days.

I think the word you are looking for is "slutty" and yes, I agree that all of the early 20s female smokers I have been with were slutty.

Quote
All my firsts were with smokers, from kisses to actual sex.   

They also tasted like ashtrays.

So by slutty you mean a woman that actually enjoys sex, why not just call her a man?    I don't get the whole slut shaming thing.   We all want women to have sex with us, but if they don't do it the right way they're deemed sluts, why?    After all, I met my wife in a bar, went home with her that night and 12 years (7 years of marriage) and two kids later we're still together.    There's no way I'd trade her for someone that was afraid of what people might call them for having sex with someone they just met.   

Primm

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I've been tempted many times when I see someone throw a cigarette butt out a car window to pick it up, go to their window and say "Here, you dropped this!" and hand it back to them.

I've done that. Once. I was driving, We were both stopped at a red light when a young guy flung his burning butt out the window, and it ended up close enough to my car that I could pick it up with my door open and fling it back through their open window. 

It didn't end well. Let's just say it involved me running a red light and parking outside the nearest police station. I've never done it again...

dragoncar

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I've seen two fires in the city caused by butts (bushes and trash) and can't wait to move here:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_25020894/walnut-creek-secondhand-smoking-ban-now-effect

sol

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I don't get the whole slut shaming thing.

I didn't use the word pejoratively.  I used it to describe the class of women that was more receptive to your advances than all other groups of women, just as you did.  That is the definition of slutty, regardless of gender.

Would you have preferred "loose" or "easy"?
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 11:59:27 PM by sol »

sobezen

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Sometimes I wish there was a law that forced these inconsiderate bums into picking it up or be forced to eat it.

Cressida

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I don't get the whole slut shaming thing.

I didn't use the word pejoratively.  I used it to describe the class of women that was more receptive to your advances than all other groups of women, just as you did.  That is the definition of slutty, regardless of gender.

Would you have preferred "loose" or "easy"?

Reread what you wrote and tell us again that it's not pejorative.

sol

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He's the one who said nobody would sleep with him except early 20s female smokers. 

Of all of the women I have dated with in my life, the only two that desperately begged me for sex on the first date were both smokers.  So, in this case my experience and his experience happen to align.

Okay, the part about tasting like ashtrays was pretty pejorative.  I'd consider apologizing if it wasn't such an obvious statement of truth.

Gin1984

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I'm not a fan of cigarette smoke, but I don't get all marginalization of people that choose to smoke.   They're paying considerably higher rates for insurance so I can't really complain about that.    They also use less in insurance money over a lifetime than healthy non-smokers.   I don't really care that people smoke if it doesn't invade my space.   And considering that I haven't been to a bar in 10 years where people can smoke, it doesn't really invade my space that much.    I think the butts on the ground thing is more related to being a douche bag than a smoker.

Everyone is also failing to see a very important member of the smoking tribe.    The early 20s female college smoker.    Say what you will, but I always found that this group was considerably more friendly to my advances in my single days.    For some reason they always seemed to be more social and accommodating, and I really did appreciate the attention.   All my firsts were with smokers, from kisses to actual sex.   
Greaper, when I was in California I saw it a lot less, but then again we had stricter laws, including fines if a smoker smoked within 20-25 ft of a state/county building.  Here in Buffalo we had to leave the gay pride parade because so many people were smoking at such close quarters that I had trouble breathing (and I did not feel safe with people not being careful with the cigs themselves).  My university has a medical school so we are suppose to be smoke free but because there is no fine, no one listens.  People park themselves right outside the door so you have to walk through the smoke to get inside. 
And back when I was a kid, that happened in California as well.  I have not EVER seen a polite smoker (well except for weed) and the only times I see the behavior that is acceptable to me is when it has been forced on them because of stricter laws. 

Gin1984

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I don't get the whole slut shaming thing.

I didn't use the word pejoratively.  I used it to describe the class of women that was more receptive to your advances than all other groups of women, just as you did.  That is the definition of slutty, regardless of gender.

Would you have preferred "loose" or "easy"?
Do you call yourself loose or easy?  Or a slut?  If not, they don't use it for the other gender.  It is bloody simple.

80Westy

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+1 to that.


sheepstache

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I want to say that I clicked on the thread because I saw Gin1984 was the most recent post and she often has fun documentation to back up her points so I thought we'd hear something interesting.  So I was a little disappointed to see she had just had to weigh in as the feminism police, but on the other hand, I really appreciate that she goes around being the feminism police and wanted to thank her.  (Not to jump on you personally, Sol, I know you don't usually go around being offensive, it's just a common language thing which is worth deconstructing.  And btw no need to backpedal, if the word you used weren't pejorative, the comment wouldn't have been humorous.  That's the whole format of the joke, person 1 says something mild, person 2 "corrects" them with pithy, harsh word.  I'm sure there are many famous examples but it's hard to google since the wording isn't always exact, but here's a recent example from the Times of India using your phrasing:
Quote
"This is so…post-modern,” one colleague said, remarking on how minimal messages keep getting with time — from tweets, to emojis to, well, Yo. “The word you’re looking for is ‘stupid’,” another chipped in helpfully.
)


I've always assumed the butt thing was historically because of fear of fire.  The world used to be a lot more flammable so even though technological advances in building materials, trash management and even the cigarettes themselves mean our cities are less likely to go the way of London circa 1666, the convention remains.

You don't see them often anymore now that smoking is practically illegal in New York, but there used to be specialized containers for cigarette butts.  Sometimes it was a stand alone reverse funnel type thing that I assume limited the oxygen available to a fire.  And I'm old enough to remember garbage cans that had trays of sand on top of their covers which were specifically for butts.  So I think the message has always been that you're not supposed to put your butts in the trash can even if you try to fully extinguish them.  That's why leaving them on the ground seems like an acceptable alternative.  Not that I'm endorsing it.

GuitarStv

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Do you call yourself loose or easy?  Or a slut?

No . . . but that's largely due to social awkwardness, not due to lack of trying.

dude

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Everyone is also failing to see a very important member of the smoking tribe.    The early 20s female college smoker.    Say what you will, but I always found that this group was considerably more friendly to my advances in my single days.    For some reason they always seemed to be more social and accommodating, and I really did appreciate the attention.   All my firsts were with smokers, from kisses to actual sex.   

hahaha!  "(You Know What They Say About) Girls Who Smoke" -- an excellent Drive-By Truckers tune based on the old adage.  In my younger days it was "If she smokes, she goes . . ."

sol

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Do you call yourself loose or easy?  Or a slut?  If not, they don't use it for the other gender.  It is bloody simple.

I certainly would, if I had a lot of sex with people I didn't know very well.  I have definitely used the term to describe men I have known like that.

I realize it's a politically charged word, particularly with people who trying to dissociate gender oppression from sex-positivism.  Great, I'm all for that.  But we still need a word to describe people who are indiscriminate and/or irresponsible with their sexuality, and I don't shy away from the words we already have.

GuitarStv

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We do already have less charged words to refer to this behaviour as well . . . promiscuous perhaps?