Cigarette Butt Pick-Up Campaign

Cigarette Butt Pick-Up Campaign

What we did

In spring 2018, a team of staff and students conducted cigarette butt pick-up research at three sites around campus:

  • California Hall, west patio
  • Jacobs Hall, north entrance
  • Kroeber Hall, bus stop

Each site had two initial pick-ups, scheduled two weeks apart, to establish a baseline number of how many new butts appeared in a two-week period.

Then, upgraded signage was posted at each site re-promoting the tobacco and smoke-free policy, which were then followed by additional pick-ups to determine how much impact the signage would have in the next two-week period.

What we found

We acknowledge that many factors may have impacted a change in the number of cigarette butts in the second two-week period. However, the team was pleased to see numbers drop at two sites, one by 28% and another by nearly 75%! The team also heard anecdotally from staff at both of these sites that they had noticed a decrease in the number of smokers in the latter part of the semester.

What you can do

Interested in doing something similar for your campus building? Here are a couple of approaches:

Environmental clean-up

  • Organize a one-hour time and recruit a crew of interested colleagues.
  • Bring supplies such as kitchen tongs, gloves, bags/cups, etc.
  • Consider using ziploc bags if you want to take a photo of what you collect.
  • Share with other colleagues how they can help support this as an ongoing initiative.

Cigarette butt pick-up research

  • Schedule three dates to ideally fall two weeks apart - for example:
    • Tuesday at 3pm in week one - initial pick-up
    • Tuesday at 3pm in week three - second pick-up and posting of enhanced signage
    • Tuesday at 3pm in week five - third pick-up
  • Determine specific boundaries at the site, and conduct your pick-up within the same boundaries each time.
  • Count the number picked up each time and keep track somehow so you can compare the difference between each pick-up.
  • Share your findings and any recommendations with staff in your building!
  • Forward your findings to and we will add it to our campuswide policy evaluation.