Roughly 50 UB students collected 31.5 pounds of cigarette butts around UB’s North Campus Sunday afternoon.
Sadie Kratt, Student Association environmental affairs director, coordinated the cigarette-butt cleanup –– or “Butts Suck” –– this semester and last semester after hearing students express concerns about UB’s smoke-free policy, which they said isn’t widely adhered to or enforced. Kratt, along with 13 undergraduate SA clubs, picked up cigarette butts across North Campus, from the Ellicott Complex to Alumni Arena and the Natural Sciences Complex.
“This is just to raise awareness about the fact that our campus is covered in cigarette butts,” Kratt said. “It’s not good aesthetically; it's not good for the environmental health and air quality for both students and the natural environment.”
In just 20 minutes, four UB students found over 50 cigarette butts between Bonner Hall and Fronczak Hall. Gina George, a junior biomedical sciences major and one of the four students, participated in “Butts Suck” to help offset the environmental effects of smoking.
“I wanted to help minimize the impact that UB students have, because there are a lot of smokers on campus,” George said.
Renuka Kannappan, a senior biomedical sciences major, participated in the event and said she finds it “ironic” how students smoke in front of the “no smoking” signs on campus.
“It's ridiculous UB preaches that [it is] a no smoking campus yet all we see are people smoking cigarette butts everywhere,” Kannappan said. “I think that we should be part of the change and trying to remove them and actually make it a no smoking campus.”
Kratt hopes the event will cause UB to better enforce its smoke-free policy. She also thinks the policy should be updated since it doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes.
“I would like to see a better confrontation or a better way to enforce the policy and I would like to see receptacles put up around campus for people to put their cigarette butts in,” Kratt said. “I think we need to establish either smoking zones or at least receptacle zones where people can bring their butt waste because it just is a huge litter problem.”
Kratt said she understands that smoking is an addiction, since her grandmother battled smoking, and many students will fight the smoke-free policy once it becomes enforced. She said she is in favor of establishing smoking zones.
“I think we need to give students resources, like cigarette receptacles because if we don't, it's going to end up on the ground.”
Kratt said the smoke-free policy doesn’t apply to UB faculty or staff. She said the university recently removed cigarette receptacles around campus, leaving only one at Jacobs Management Center.
Kratt purposefully planned the clean-up around prospective student tour dates because she wants the campus that she loves to look presentable for future students and hopes to continue this initiative next academic year.
Kratt said she was “pretty satisfied” with the day’s collections, despite picking up roughly four pounds less than at last semester’s event.
“We picked up 35 pounds of cigarettes last time so we're pretty close as this one's 31 and a half. So I'm pretty happy with how this turned out,” Kratt said.
Alexandra Moyen is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.