Tom Ross

Tom Ross

Tom Ross: Curiously strong fire prevention

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Tom here.

— Really, it’s not my style to lecture my friends who are smokers. They already know the score on their health report cards.

But this summer is different.

If you’ve observed someone casually flipping a lighted cigarette butt away this summer, you know what I’m talking about. Many cigarette smokers are conscientious about how they dispose of their butts. But I think we can all agree that one of the likeliest ways for a damaging forest fire to ignite in the Yampa Valley this summer is from someone being careless with a cigarette.

It’s easy for smokers sitting in a chair outside their place of employment to drop their butts into an old Folgers coffee can with a couple of inches of water in it. However, when you think about people who work outside in forests and fields, the question of how to safely get rid of their stubby little friends is more problematic.

But inconvenience is no excuse for endangering the lives and property of others.

I know I wouldn’t want to put a hot butt in my shirt pocket, but there has to be a easy way for people on the run to safely dispose of cigarettes. I’m here this morning to suggest the Smokey Bear Curiously Strong Mint approach.

In case you’ve never tried an Altoids mint, they are really strong. That’s why the company prints the phrase “Curiously Strong Mints” on every tin it places on store shelves.

The history of Altoids can be traced to the late 19th century and Smith and Company, which touted the little circular white mints for their calming effect on the stomachs of Londoners.

Today, the makers of Altoids don’t claim any health benefits from their products. However, I’m touting Altoids as a way to prevent forest fires.

More specifically, it’s the metal tin that Altoids come in — with a lid that snaps tightly shut — that I’m focused on.

Smokers can find Altoids at most places where they buy tobacco products. The mints will freshen their breath. What I’m suggesting is that they dump the mints into their shirt pockets (or perhaps an empty cigarette pack) and save the tin for convenient and safe storage of old cigs. How easy is that?

And now for a disclaimer: I have no business relationship with the makers of Curiously Strong Mints. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, does this newspaper. Did I mention that they come in peppermint, wintergreen, cinnamon, spearmint, ginger and even licorice flavors?

But here’s what matters most in this season of unprecedented drought: Only you and Altoids can prevent forest fires.

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