Using Posters and Portable Ashtrays to Reduce Cigarette Butts on Dutch Beaches

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Correct cigarette butt disposal contributes to a healthy North Sea. Unfortunately, still too many cigarettes are disposed in the sand. The present paper describes two studies on littering among Dutch adults ( >18 years), applying insights from an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour. The first study investigated psychological factors that play a role in determining the frequency of littering in general (i.e. perceived effort, and knowledge). 176 participants filled in the self-reported online questionnaire. Results indicated that perceived effort, intention, social norms, personal norms all had a direct relationship with litter frequency, whereas knowledge, perceived responsibility, accessibility and perceived behavioural control did not. Interestingly, a statistically significant difference of litter frequency was found between smokers and non-smokers. In study 2, it was examined how these factors could be used to develop an intervention aimed at reducing cigarette butt litter on Dutch touristic beaches. An experimental observation was conducted with two counterbalanced conditions (i.e. posters, and portable ashtrays) and one control group. Relative influx functioned as the outcome variable. After 6 full days of collecting data, results showed no statistically significant differences between experimental and control conditions. However, effect sizes were medium to large, which indicates that in a larger sample the group means might differ. This suggests that interventions focused on perceived effort and social norms seem promising to reduce cigarette butt litter. Future studies should look into obtaining more statistical power when conducting experimental observations. Keywords: cigarette butts, litter, touristic beaches, experimental observation, portable ashtrays, posters
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen