You may have noticed that there is an absurd amount of cigarette butts littered around the perimeter of the PCC campus. This is because on January 1, 2014, PCC became an entirely smoke free campus, and smokers are forced to retreat beyond the school’s boundaries to enjoy a cigarette. But how much harm is this ban reducing?
Once the cigarettes are finished, stomped out, and the second hand smoke disappears, the dangers and concerns are certainly not eliminated. Without a proper place to dispose of butts, cigarettes are discarded to the ground, and can be mistaken as food by some young children, birds, or other small, living organisms. The cost of clean-up is daunting. According to the New York Times, the city of San Francisco spends an estimated $10.7 million per year cleaning up littered butts.
When there were designated smoking areas on campus, these areas were accompanied with ashtrays where smokers could dispose of their butts. Now, the sidewalks, grass, trees, and other plants assume the role of ashtrays. Sgt. Steven Matchan of PCC’s police department adds that it is against a Pasadena city ordinance to be smoking while stationary on city property.
As a result, PCC is unable to install ashtrays close to popular off campus smoking areas. Cigarette butts are already far and away the most littered item, so why add to the problem?
“Cigarette butts contain carcinogens that can leach into soil, and chemicals that are poisonous to wildlife, threatening to contaminate water sources,” Legacy for Health explains.
The ban has done nothing more than merely move the “designated smoking areas” from being on campus to just a few feet off of campus (and far away from any area meant for proper disposal of butts). A popular new smoker’s “hangout” is on the sidewalk next to the crosswalk on Hill Street, between Colorado and Del Mar. People arriving to and leaving that part of campus (as well as other areas) are still walking through clouds of second hand smoke.
The smoking ban has done nothing to decrease the amount of second hand smoke. The only thing the ban has accomplished is creating a giant pile of cigarette butts on the streets and sidewalks of Pasadena. If this trend continues, it will not be long until our college is known as the city resident that dumps their waste onto the streets.
Even if you aren’t an environmentalist, at least have some school pride. I do not think I am the only one noticing the alarming number of disgusted looks from passers-by, as they walk by our campus, only to see a week-old pile of tobacco and tar stained filters that blanket the sidewalks.