The city of Madison and the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) are getting ready to launch an anti-butt campaign.
"Both businesses and downtown customers have given a lot of feedback about how many cigarette butts there are," says Mary Carbine, executive director of BID. "It's challenging to clean them up when they're stuck in tree grates."
To counteract this problem, the city is installing 11 urns around the Capitol Square as it renovates sidewalks and installs new benches. Using a $500 grant from Keep America Beautiful, BID will handle the public education campaign. It will also try a new tactic, at least in these parts: personal ashtrays.
The small black ashtrays have a sliding cover and are lined with a light metal inside. Smokers can stamp out their cigarettes and then store the butts until they can be thrown out.
Carbine says the BID has about 600 of the pocket ashtrays to distribute and will begin to do so after the city installs the urns. "I'm not sure what the demand will be. We'll have to gauge it as we go and order more if we need to."
Does she think these little gadgets will catch on? Carbine is not a smoker but has heard they're popular in other places.
"It might be unusual in Madison, but some folks who are smokers have said, 'Oh, I've seen those,'" she says, adding, "I don't think people really want to litter."