Butts: ‘unnecessary toxic litter’

    Officials at San Francisco State University (SFSU) have been struggling with the idea that putting up receptacles for the disposal of cigarette butts might encourage smoking.

    A piece by Robyn Purchia on sfexaminer.com describes how San Francisco’s Department of the Environment and the SFSU teamed up with Shelly Ericksen of The Surfrider Foundation’s San Francisco Chapter to install San Francisco’s first cigarette-butt-recycling receptacles.

    Students can now drop their used filters in three receptacles around the campus’s perimeter instead of on the ground. Terracycle, the only company that recycles filters, provides the service for free.

    But SFSU officials have apparently struggled with the message cigarette recycling receptacles will send. Although SFSU became smoke-free in 2004, surveys indicate that a higher proportion of its students admit to smoking a cigarette during the past 30 days than is the case in respect of college students nation-wide.

    “We don’t want to encourage smoking,” Nick Kordesch, SFSU’s sustainability co-ordinator, was quoted as saying. “But we don’t want to turn our existing smokers into litterers.”

    But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Purchia’s piece is where she examines the possibility of solving the problem of discarded cigarette butts by not including them on cigarettes in the first place.

    ‘Of course, banning filters seems like an easy solution,’ she wrote. ‘They don’t make cigarettes healthier. In fact, American tobacco companies are forbidden to suggest filters reduce smoking risks. As Ericksen told me, they’re “a very unnecessary form of toxic litter”.’

    Purchia’s piece is at: http://www.sfexaminer.com/will-cigarette-recycling-cans-encourage-smoking/