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Article | Smoking Close to Others and Butt Littering at Bus Stops: Pilot Observational Study


Background: Transportation settings such as bus stops and train station platforms are increasingly the target for new smokefree legislation. Relevant issues include secondhand smoke exposure, nuisance, litter, fire risks and the normalization of smoking. We therefore aimed to pilot study aspects of smoking behavior and butt disposal at bus stops.

Methods: Systematic observation of smoking and butt disposal by smokers at bus stops. The selection of 11 sites was a mix of convenience and purposeful (bus stops on main routes) in two New Zealand cities.

Results: During 27 hours of observation, a total of 112 lit cigarettes were observed being smoked. Smoking occurred in the presence of: just adults (46%), both young people and adults (44%), just young people (6%) and alone (5%). An average of 6.3 adults and 3.8 young people were present at the bus stops while smoking occurred, at average minimum distances of 1.7 and 2.2 meters respectively. In bus stops that included an enclosed shelter, 33% of the cigarettes were smoked inside the shelter with others present. Littering was the major form of cigarette disposal with 84% of cigarettes smoked being littered (95% CI: 77% – 90%). Also, 4% of disposals were into vegetation, which may pose a fire risk.

Conclusions: This pilot study is limited by its small size and various methodological aspects but it appears to be a first attempt to provide observational evidence around smoking at bus stops. The issues described could be considered by policy makers who are investigating national smokefree laws or by-laws covering transportation settings.

Citation: Wilson N, Oliver J, Thomson G. (2014) Smoking close to others and butt littering at bus stops: pilot observational study. PeerJ 2:e272

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For more information please contact:

Associate Professor Nick Wilson
University of Otago, Wellington

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