Cigarette butt voting

A city has rolled out a unique disposal system that allows users to vote with their cigarette butts. Here, users can weigh in on which direction toilet paper should roll.

GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star

Five containers, offering smokers a chance to vote with their butts on not so serious questions, have been installed in downtown Lincoln.

So you can vote whether you like your toilet paper to come off the roll under or over, whether you prefer the chant Husker Power to Go Big Red, or which dating app you like better — Tinder or Bumble — by tossing a cigarette butt into a container.

The ButtsintheBox campaign is the front-end guerilla marketing tactic for a plan to encourage smokers to thoughtfully discard cigarette butts in containers and not toss them on sidewalks or in planters, said Todd Ogden, deputy director of the Downtown Lincoln Association.

DLA, whose staff sweep up thousands of butts a year, borrowed the idea from a United Kingdom campaign.

The staff has been looking for creative ways to raise awareness. They wanted something that would encourage people to “do something” not to “not do something,” Ogden said.

Once one side of a ButtsintheBox fills up, DLA will post the result on social media, he said.

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ButtsintheBox is also part of a longer term, anti-littering educational campaign that will be conducted by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Department of Health.

The department found 61,000 cigarette butts tossed on sidewalks, streets and grass in 18 different sites in downtown Lincoln during a weekend survey.

DLA has a street sweeper to clean up tossed cigarette butts, but can’t get to those thrown into planters and in mulch. And cigarette filters don’t decompose, Ogden said.

The goal of the long-term campaign is to educate people on the importance of keeping downtown Lincoln clean and beautiful, Ogden said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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