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Keep Knoxville Beautiful takes on smokers’ litter

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is attempting to raise awareness of cigarette litter in downtown Knoxville, and a spokesman from the group said he’d be glad to hear from anyone interested in expanding the project to Farragut.

“We’re doing an experiment in the downtown area that came through our national organization, Keep America Beautiful. They selected several communities, and they requested we do the central business district; it’s a very targeted awareness. We’re actually talking to smokers that work in the downtown area, restaurants that have outdoor seating and the KAT transit stops, we have signage down there. We’re also doing containers, and we’re sending those out and checking those on a weekly basis to see what we’re getting,” Tom Salter, executive director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful, said. “We also did a visual scan of the number of cigarette butts on the ground in these areas. Then we’re going to go down and check it again at the end of the promotion.

“[The experiment] is going to last about five weeks. It will be just a quick experiment to see if they make a difference. I think [the receptacles] have been out about two weeks,” he added.

As far as Farragut, he said, “We are wanting to find interested neighborhoods or commercial districts that want to try something. We are going to look at Farragut. What I need to do is connect with some of the businesses that have a cigarette waste problem. We have some containers that we can put out now. We would like to talk to businesses in the Farragut area. I’m sure there are commercial areas that have problems.”

Currently “the receptacles are provided free of charge. In the future we may subsidize them, maybe go in halves with the business,” Salter added. “One of the keys is coming up with who’s going to empty it. That usually helps us determine who we’re going to give them to, or who we’re going to go in with.

“We’ll use that as a persuasive argument for a business to invest in this, that it’s worth it to empty this thing out twice a month. Also, if a company has smoking employees and they have a no smoking policy, we really encourage businesses to provide receptacles for them. The employees may have to go out back or something, and that becomes the cigarette litter trash heap out by the back door.”

Many people don’t realize, Salter said, that cigarette butts are litter.

“Typically, if you want to count the pieces of litter, it’s a major portion of the litter,” he said. “It’s just a big portion of the litter problem. It’s a noticeable problem, and a lot of times smokers, that’s the only thing they litter. They don’t even think of cigarette litter as litter. One of the points of this is to raise awareness so that it is disposed of properly. That’s our whole thing, always dispose properly, whether it’s recycling aluminum or paper or putting cigarettes in a trash can.”

Unfortunately, “as far as cigarette litter from vehicles, this isn’t really addressing that. That message is a more difficult message; we just have to remind people that cigarettes are litter just like anything else,” he said.

Anyone interested in expanding the cigarette litter prevention program to Farragut should contact Salter at 865-521-6957 or More information on the program can be found at


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