Organizers of a cigarette litter task force say a summer campaign targeting downtown Lexington and two major hospitals significantly reduced the number of cigarette butts on the ground. The task force was the first major project of the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission. Commission member Jane Eller says the project involved a public education effort and installing more cigarette receptacles outside building entrances.
"My mom was a smoker. And she would throw a cigarette butt down and smash it with her foot and to her that was disposing of it properly because she was putting it out. So I don't think anyone means to litter, they just aren't thinking. But they need to think that it's just like any other kind of litter."
Eller says cigarette butts on the ground end up in the storm drains and contaminate water.
To measure their results, the task force did a physical count in June before the litter campaign and again in August. They picked up nearly 7,500 cigarette butts on the ground outside several downtown buildings and two major hospitals. By August, the count was down to 1,343.
"So our hope is that more buildings and businesses will recognize that this can make a big difference for our city and our water quality and what it looks like just to put out these ash receptacles," says Eller.
St. Joseph Hospital saw the biggest litter reduction after installing ten receptacles around its campus along Harrodsburg Road and Waller Avenue.
This month Eller sent the data to the national organization Keep America Beautiful, which provided a grant for the project.