Strolling across campus on a gorgeous day, everything seems tranquil and wonderful until all of a sudden pedestrians find themselves walking through a sea of cigarette butts.
Where did this veritable wasteland come from?
Last year’s student-proposed smoking restrictions, which led to the creation of specific smoking areas on campus, also caused plates to be placed over ashtrays on the garbage bins campus-wide.
More likely than not, this mass of pollution built up because of the plates.
While these efforts are well-intentioned, they ultimately have been ineffective, maybe even detrimental, to the health of both smokers and non-smokers, as well as the environment.
Without a proper way to dispose of cigarettes, smokers have no other choice than to litter Butler University’s campus with the used stumps of cigarettes.
Butler smokers—and any campus visitors unaware of the policy—cannot be subject to blame for the litter strewn across campus when there are no receptacles for them to throw out their cigarettes.
If the university wants to strive for a smaller environmental footprint, especially when they are promoting green events, they should address littering first.
While we at The Butler Collegian understand the plates are covering the ashtrays in order to discourage smoking in non-smoking areas, we think an alternative must be instated to keep Butler’s campus litter-free.
If this smoking policy is going to be enforced and the plates on the ashtrays kept, perhaps more receptacles for cigarette disposal should be added near the smoking areas in order to reduce littering in most places.
This littering issue underlies a deeper problem with the smoking ordinance though.
There is not clear enforcement of it.
In fact, The Collegian predicted this potential issue last year in a staff editorial when the smoking ban was first implemented.
Staff members hypothesized that without proper enforcement, the policy would mean nothing.
BUPD Chief Ben Hunter said BUPD cannot directly enforce the smoking policy.
As an HR policy, the smoking policy is enforced through a “collective effort” by the students, staff, RAs and administration, not by the police.
With enforcement given out arbitrarily and ineffectively, this smoking ban actually becomes more of a detriment than an aid to the Butler community.
Pedestrians unaware of the smoking sites will still experience second-hand smoke.
Student smokers, confined to smoke in these spots, are forced to smoke in areas without shelter and without proper disposal units nearby.
Without proper disposal units, there is not only litter, but, depending on the situation, the cigarette butts could become an environmental, health and fire hazard.
Simply put, the lack of ashtrays in smoking areas, clear delineation of smoking areas and true enforcement of this policy leads to a vicious cycle that harms both smokers and non-smokers, as well as the environment.