Tracy Smith has developed an awareness campaign in the hopes of putting a halt to the habit of flicking cigarette butts out of vehicle windows.

Tracy Smith has developed an awareness campaign in the hopes of putting a halt to the habit of flicking cigarette butts out of vehicle windows.

Awareness campaign to address cigarette flicking issue

Former parks worker believes there’s a better way to address the problem than handing out fines

  • Aug. 10, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Terry Farrell

Record staff

As of the end of July, B.C. has had 1,418 wildfires, burning an estimated 282,000 hectares of land.

Approximately 30 per cent of those fires have been caused by people, and while improperly extinguished campfires, industrial activities and vehicles igniting vegetation are responsible for many of the human-caused fires, improperly discarded cigarette butts has come to the forefront like never before.

As more of the province’s (and the country’s) forests burn due to human causes, calls for action on the illegal tossing of cigarette butts are becoming more prevalent.

Fines have been increased, hotlines have been added and media campaigns have been launched.

Tracy Smith has another plan.

Smith was a park maintenance worker on Salt Spring Island for many years and spent much of her time cleaning up after others.

“No one should be cleaning up cigarette butts,” she said. “The responsible parties are the smokers and the manufacturers…no one else should have to be involved in the smokers’ experience.”

That said, Smith believes there’s a better way to address the problem than handing out fines.

“Punishing ex-post facto will simply alienate the smoker who will want to just not get caught, but it won’t inspire a change in preventing the flicking habit in the first place,” she said.

Smith thinks the best way to address the problem is through education.

She has developed an awareness tool called the Out-Smart Campaign.

“The Out-Smart Campaign is designed to emotionally engage the current and future smoker; to identify with being outside smart, or to put their cigarette out in a smart way,” she explained. “To care and be consciously aware of the consequences caused by careless cigarette disposal.”

She teamed up with Record editorial cartoonist Bob Castle to design a campaign “spokesperson”, so to speak: Smart Marty. The cartoon character is shown giving the “thumbs up” sign, with the message “keep it in the vehicle” on posters, and as a mascot, Smart Marty will deliver the message that “flicking” cigarette butts just isn’t smart.

“I picture Smart Marty being present at all kinds of outdoor events where, I can tell you, cigarette litter is a major issue for event planners and waste management control,” Smith said, who also envisions bumper stickers and posters with the message on them, wherever cigarettes are sold.

And, for those who don’t want to fill their vehicle’s ashtray with discarded cigarette butts, a point of purchase product line is planned: a fire retardant-filled, disposable pouch.

“According to the research I’ve done, smokers just don’t like to dirty their own ashtrays (in their vehicles) and even though there are all kinds of options to carry their own personal ashtrays, they just don’t,” said Smith. “So I designed this pouch where smokers could put their butts in and never take them out again. They don’t smell, they don’t burn. They just fill the container and when it’s full the whole thing just goes in the garbage.”

The next step for Smith is marketing the campaign. She plans on approaching the tobacco companies to discuss possible partnerships as soon as September.

“They are in a position to distribute it and run with it in a big way,” she said, adding that it would not be the first time the tobacco giants partnered with other groups. “When I discovered that Imperial Tobacco partnered with TerraCycle in the collection and recycling of filtered cigarette butts, it became apparent that the tobacco companies are willing to contribute to the solution.”

She said the key is awareness, but in a non-confrontational manner.

“The key is to be hard on the problem and soft on the people,” said Smith. “Smokers are inundated with negativity. From pollution, to other people who don’t like it, to health matters, they are often being judged.

“So to throw something negative at them is not going to help. We have to negotiate with them, try to get them to change their attitudes. Hopefully the smoker 10 years down the line is going to be aware of Smart Marty, and understand the message that we are trying to get across here. If we can get the message out there, the future smoker is going to identify with caring about the environment and being ‘outside smart.’”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read