Throwing your butt out in Cape Town means putting your vote in
Cigarette butts weighing more than a female hippo are collected by cleaning crews in the Cape Town CBD every year.
According to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District‚ approximately 1‚722kg of stompies were collected last year.
Now improvement district bosses have decided to replicate a UK charity's idea to stub out the butt problem.
Hubbub encourages smokers to vote on something topical using a ballot bin. Voters choose one of two slots for their cigarette butt. Each slot has a display window which allows the “opinion poll to be generated as the old butts pile up on either side”‚ according to the charity’s website.
In the UK‚ Hubbub chose sporting questions to launch the idea after discovering that most butts were dropped by young men‚ and they achieved dramatic reductions in the number of butts discarded on the ground.
According to the CCID‚ the Cape Town activation has been a “huge success”. Smokers were asked: “Belieber or Non-Belieber?” The results were equal. But they seem to think it is “okay to have an office romance”.
Said Richard Beesley‚ who heads the CCID urban management department: “We’ll be taking the lessons learnt from this experiment to see how we can move forward. Clearly‚ behavioural change can be effectively achieved if you engage directly with the public in a fun or highly interactive way.”
The CCID has also dished out 30‚000 pocket ashtrays with flame-retardant linings allowing smokers to “stub out a stompie responsibly”.
Academics from San Diego in the US estimated in 2011 that about 4.5 trillion butts are tossed every year‚ and they are not just a nuisance; according to the UN Development Programme they have devastating effects on oceans.
Roy Small‚ a policy analyst for the programme‚ said on its website last month: “Cigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients‚ including arsenic‚ lead‚ nicotine and ethyl phenol‚ all of which leak into aquatic environments.
“In one lab study‚ the leachate from just one cigarette butt‚ placed into no more than one litre of water‚ killed half of all exposed marine and freshwater fish.”