Smoke-free College Campuses: No Ifs, ands or Toxic Butts (2011)

Author: Michael Sawdey et al.

Abstract

Objective: To better estimate the burden of toxic cigarette butt waste and create awareness of the hazardous nature of cigarette butts on two large university campuses in San Diego by organizing and conducting student cigarette butt clean-up activities.

Methods: Two separate campus-wide clean-ups were conducted by student volunteers at San Diego State University (SDSU) and at University of California San Diego (UCSD) between April and July 2010. Results In 1 h, 63 volunteers at SDSU collected 23 885 butts; 6525 cigarette butts were collected in 1 h by 17 volunteers at UCSD. The average number of cigarette butts picked up per individual was 379.1 at SDSU and 383.8 at UCSD (range 25e1030 per volunteer).

Results: In 1 h, 63 volunteers at SDSU collected 23 885 butts; 6525 cigarette butts were collected in 1 h by 17 volunteers at UCSD. The average number of cigarette butts picked up per individual was 379.1 at SDSU and 383.8 at UCSD (range 25e1030 per volunteer).

Conclusion: The amount of cigarette waste on college campuses nationally may be quite substantial given the many thousands of cigarette butts gathered at each of the San Diego institutions. In just 10 s on average a volunteer could locate, walk to, pick up and put a cigarette butt in the collection bag and then begin looking for another discarded butt, indicating the saturation of cigarette butts on campus. Smoke-free policies on campus could have far-reaching effects not only in reducing smoking behaviour on campus and ground clean-up costs, but also on the environment. Campus cigarette waste clean-ups can be utilized to call attention to the issue of cigarette butt waste in the environment.

Read more: Tobacco Control