While health department officials are quick to celebrate the obvious benefits of an indoor-smoking ban, smokers have been pushed outside, their butts now flapping in the wind.

Students display their bags of butts.
  • Photo courtesy of TRU
  • Students display their bags of butts.

Chapel Hill High School student volunteers of Orange County Tobacco.Reality.Unflitered bagged and tagged 5,866 discarded filters on the town’s man thoroughfare on May 6 and May 13.

Members of the Downtown Partnership used to same method to collect 5,784 butts in 2008, but they saw that number drop to just 3.538 four months later after ashtray receptacles were provided to smoke-heavy locations.

Students found only five receptacles during their count, down from 13 in 2008. Smokers didn’t take the time to find them, offloading their unwanted nicotine remnants in flowerbeds, tree grates and along the bricks.

The Downtown Partnership plans to push for more cigarette discarding locations to cure the problem.