No ashtrays? Not Kool

Perhaps you’ve seen them all over campus. They’ve made homes crammed alongside campus buildings, speckling the mulch and grass, skittering across the sidewalks as you make your way to 7 Ideas. They’ve become an integral part of the Kent campus.

And we’re not talking about the black squirrels.

They’re Camels – of the cigarette variety – along with Marlboros, Winstons, you name it, brethren. And they’re everywhere.

If you’ve been on the Kent campus for a while, you’ve gotten used to the smokers and their littered butts. The inch-long smelly leftovers seem to sift their way through to any part of the campus grounds.

But we noticed something a little different after returning from winter break. It seems an orgy of cigarettes has claimed the campus. They’re everywhere like they used to be, but they’ve multiplied.

The reason for this annoying increase of cigarette butts? Well, this leads to another question: Where did all the ashtrays go?

The majority of the ashtrays were removed from their spots outside of the residence halls and buildings when the smoking ban went into effect on Dec. 7, 2006. SmokeFreeOhio was passed on the November ballots, prohibiting smoking in all public places and places of employment in Ohio. Smokers were forced outdoors, 20 feet away from buildings.

But if Kent State wants to deter smoking and enforce the 20-foot rule, taking away smokers’ disposal methods is not the answer. Although not every smoker was previously contentious enough to throw his or her butts away in the cigarette sandboxes, at least the containers were within view. We guarantee that during cold weather, such as yesterday and today, smokers are going to congregate near the buildings when they think they won’t get caught. This can be expected, so why only put the ashtrays 20 feet away from where they will be extinguishing their butts? It’s not going to matter to them where the ashtrays are, just where they can smoke and be warm.

Moreover, this is not just a matter of convenience for the smokers. If anything, moving the ashtrays back to the buildings will benefit non-smokers the most. It’s easy for someone who helps contribute to the numerous cigarettes on the ground to walk right past them without thinking twice. Those piles of cigarettes, however, are a little more annoying to non-smokers.

Student groups on campus and university employees spend hours in the spring cleaning the butts that have congregated over winter. The university could save money and the student groups could be doing much more productive community service if every smoker took the time to throw their cigarette out after lighting up. While that takes a bit of personal responsibility from the smokers, the university can help by providing more ashtrays.

The above editorial is the general consensus of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board..