Will ballot bins and a campaign solve the smoking problem?

Ashtrays that ask people to choose between two things, expanding no-smoking zones, and an awareness campaign are all possible plans to combat the nuisance caused by smokers in and around university property.

Using stewards to enforce the rules and confront smokers is not on the list. ‘That option is too expensive’, says UG spokesperson Elies Wempe-Kouwenhoven.

In spite of the smoke-free policy that was instated at the university in August 2020, people are still smoking across the various faculty buildings, causing a nuisance: neighbours complain about cigarette butts on their streets and library staff regularly sit in a cloud of smoke.


Three years after the anti-smoking policy was implemented, no one has come up with the ultimate solution. However, the faculty boards and University Services are working on a memo to the board of directors. They have several proposals.

One potential solution is asking the city to expand the no-smoking areas around university buildings. ‘One possibility is the street between the UB and the Academy building’, says Wempe-Kouwenhoven.

‘That’s officially city territory, which means it’s a public street and we can’t ban smoking.’ But they might be able to do so if the city agrees on an expansion.


The university is also working on a campaign to let students and staff know that the university is smoke-free. They’re still working out what this campaign will look like.

Finally, the faculties and University Services propose putting ashtrays back in some places. The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences has already done so. ‘The ashtrays we’re thinking of are the so-called ballot bins’, says Wempe-Kouwenhoven. 

Ballot bins are ashtrays that kind of look like a mailbox. The top of the box has space for the owner to write a question, such as, who’s the better football player? Below, there are two openings for cigarette butts, each with space for an answer. This way, you can make people choose between Messi and Ronaldo, for example.


Smokers can vote by dropping their butt in the corresponding slot. The two slots have a glass front so people can see which answer is winning. ‘This is supposed to encourage smokers to no longer throw their butts on the ground.’

It remains to be seen whether the ashtrays will actually be installed. University Services and the faculty boards expect to send their memo to the university board in early December, after which the university council will have to take a look at it, too.

Read more:



Notify of

De spelregels voor reageren: blijf on topic, geen herhalingen, geen URLs, geen haatspraak en beledigingen. / The rules for commenting: stay on topic, don't repeat yourself, no URLs, no hate speech or insults.


2 Reacties
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments