HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - They are some of the most common pieces of trash that we find on the ground. But an effort in Garland County that's working to curb cigarette litter is making strides, cleaning up the mess.
The biggest strides here came with a combo at some test sites. Anti-litter signs and ash receptacles are proving to be the most powerful in putting cigarette butts where they belong.
From the outside, the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs touts an awesome experience. But if you ask Adam Roberts, it's not always been so inviting here.
"It was unsightly to visitors, it was a problem," Roberts said.
It's a problem with cigarette litter. But some new changes here are putting it out.
"This is actually from a couple of days," said Roberts, showing us the cigarette butts from the ash receptacles.
Roberts showed us how the new ash receptacles are filling up since his group, the Hot Springs/Garland County Beautification Commission, came in with the changes as part of an eight-week study.
"If you have signage and an ash receptacle, they really do pay attention," Roberts said.
The commission chose the museum as one 12 test sites in the area for the study. Where they put up signs and receptacles, there was a 68 percent drop in cigarette butts. And a 38 percent drop with signs only.
"That was really impressive if you just put a sign out and remind a smoker, they are going to do their best and do something," Roberts said.
The study also showed that getting rid of the cigarette butts helped removed other trash by 33 percent overall.
"I was very pleased to see here actually, at the Mid America Science Museum, that someone actually picked up litter and put it in the receptacle and we didn't even have a column for that," Roberts said.
It's sprucing up the place even more for an awesome experience, inside and out.
Those behind this recent study filled their time visiting the 12 test sites weekly and counting the cigarette butts on the ground. Crews also watched smokers live in person to see how they'd respond to the signs and receptacles.
Roberts said the four sites with no changes saw no real progress. Some of the other test sites included a liquor store, a cell phone store and some places of worship.
Below is a release from the Hot Springs/Garland County Beautification Commission:
For the Third Year in a row, The Hot Springs/Garland County Beautification Commission (HSGCBC) has been awarded the nation's first place award by Keep America Beautiful (KAB) for their Cigarette Litter Prevention Study! The Study has been made possible by a grant from Philip Morris USA, an Altria company, with additional support from RAI Services Company. The study, developed by HSGCBC, involved selecting 9 sites to receive either signage only, signage and a free ash receptacle, or to receive no intervention and function as a placebo site.
After 11 weeks of study, there was a 38 percent reduction in sites with signage only compared to the placebo sites. Even better were the Sites with signage and free ash receptacles installed; these had a 68 percent reduction compared to the placebo sites, and these sites also saw reductions in overall litter. Ground crews and other staff commented at every site where interventions were made on the very real reductions in the amount of cigarette litter and the overall improved general litter situation in most sites. Using the KAB Litter index, there was a 33% drop in the overall litter.
One of deciding award features of the study was that for the first time in America, the cigarette litter study included "real time" periods of study, in which sites were studied for up to two hours and the public's litter actions noted.
THV's Max Seigle is in Hot Springs tonight gathering more for the "THV 10:00 Difference."