Sydney fights cigarette litter with art

CNC report from SYDNEY
Added On July 16, 2013

Almost every big city has them -- cigarette butts everywhere, in the gutter, on the street, in the parks, on the beach. In Sydney's Hyde Park, artists have used their imaginations to raise awareness of the problem.

They've using an estimated 500,000 cigarette butts to make a sculpture spelling out the word "yuk".

Check it out.

The two by five meter hollow perspex sculpture contains a small fraction of the cigarette butts discared on Sydney streets.

"Cigarettes,a global heath problem, yes - but here in Sydney, the city of Sydney government is taking issue with the question of cigarette waste, where all of these cigarettes find their way into one of the world's most precious harbors and the City of Sydney government is taking a creative approach to solving that problem."
A small plaque on the work explains that cigarette butts are the number one type of litter in Australia. They contain over 4,000 chemicals, are not biodegradable and make the beautiful city look yuk.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) LEISHA DEGUARA, Resource Recovery Manager of Sydney:
"This is our yuk installation. Its part of our zero waste campaign and were trying to get residents to think about not throwing their cigarette butts on the ground and littering our streets."
Australia may have the world's toughest anti-smoking laws, but every month, an estimated 500,000 butts flow down footpaths and gutters, finding their way into the surrounding beaches and harbor and that's made the city street-sweepers so mad that they've turned to art for a solution.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) LEISHA DEGUARA, Resource Recovery Manager of Sydney:
"Cigarette butts on the ground are terrible for a number of reasons. First of all they look yuk, second they are an environmental pollution - they leach toxic chemicals into our waterways and into our environment and thirdly they cost a lot to clean up."
Australia has succeeded in cutting smoking by linking legislation to cultural and social mores, ensuring that smokers have a strong sense of personal responsibility.
"I always throw them in the bin especially when I go to the beach, for example there's a lot of cigarette butts caught up in the sand. If I'm smoking and have cig butts I'll pick up other butts that I see and put them in the bin because we've got a beautiful country we've got to look after it."
But not everyone is convinced that art is the solution.

"My names Jodie and I'm a gardener so it's pretty offensive really.It is fabulous, but I don't think this will have too much of an influence on smokers to be honest."
And yet smoking numbers here have plummeted to just 16 percent of Australian adults from a post-war high of over 70 percent, thanks to aggressive federal legislation. But perhaps more important are grassroots campaigns like this one that present the deadly habit as socially, culturally and ethically unacceptable.
"It's definitely difficult to be a smoker in Australia in 2013. You do feel like a pariah sometimes, that you are a social outcast because there's so much negative media and publicity surrounding smoking."

The "yuk" artwork is part of a wider campaign by City of Sydney, which has put signs on its cleaning and waste trucks pointing out that cigarette butts, chewing gum and illegal dumping are three of the biggest challenges in keeping the city clean.