Opinion: Sporadic smoker sickened by discarded cigarette butts

Anne Buie

It really sickens me when I cross our beautiful campus and nearly trip over the disgusting assortment of soggy, pungent, grimy butts.

Cigarette butts, that is.

This littering habit needs to be kicked.

But let me first admit that I myself am a sporadic cigarette smoker, and I number among those who contribute to this issue.

Yes, I am a litterer, but I am aiming to change that. And I suggest the university changes with me.

I say Appalachian needs to invest in additional ashtrays.

According to the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, cigarette butts are “the most littered item in America.” Appalachian students are no exception, especially at a university claiming to be a green school.

However, it would be unfair to assume that our smoking population is simply apathetic. The CLPP claims that cigarette butt littering is caused mostly by a “lack of awareness about the environmental impact and insufficient ash receptacles.”

Appalachian began enforcing a 50-foot smoke-free radius around university buildings in 2009. This is an acceptable compromise to accommodate smokers and non-smokers, but the result is fewer ashtrays around campus, and none in convenient locations.

According to the university’s policy manual, “the practical effect of this policy is that the campus should be smoke free.” But removing and relocating ash receptacles is substituting one problem (secondhand smoke) for another (cigarette butt litter).

Just because there are less places to ethically stub out a cigarette doesn’t mean students will stop smoking.

Smoking is a choice and a legal right for anyone over 18. Each butt littered is a step away from Appalachian’s goals, from a clean environment and from a better quality of life.

Let us conquer this issue together and in turn become good stewards to Appalachian State University.

Give the students who smoke the opportunity to make good choices about where they put their cigarette trash.

And let it be understood that smoking and littering are not synonymous.

Roskos, a senior photography major from Hartland, W.I., is an intern photographer.