Enoch Tabak is a master student of Urban Governance at Erasmus University Rotterdam. With his thesis research soon to conclude, Enoch has been vehemently studying at the library. In hopes of getting a break from books and computer screens, and to make the most out of Rotterdam’s unusual sunny days, he decided to finally materialise an idea that had been brewing in his mind. With a pair of Spar plastic bags and the headphones laying in his desk, Enoch hit the streets of Campus Woudestein to pick up the cigarette butts that had been bugging him so viciously.

“This is a more subtle way”, Enoch explains. “It’s much more effective to have this unspoken and non-verbal communication.

Smoke-free campus?

In just 30 minutes of walking down the Institutenlaan and the Collegelaan, Enoch managed to fill the bag to its full capacity for the second time this month. Something that shouldn’t be possible after the ‘smoke-free campus’ policy came into effect in August of 2020. Since its implementation, smokers who wish to dispose of their butts can do so at the ashtray spots provided at the exits of the campus. “At the end of the day it’s your personal decision but throwing the stubs on the floor is the one direct step to not making this only about you and your own health. You step into a shared space, which is this campus and our nature”, Enoch says.

Straws versus cigarettes

As Enoch contemplates his weekly collection, he ponders on the attention plastic straws have received. “There are not as many straws as these cigarette butts. Straws are usually used in restaurants, so they are immediately trashed properly, while these are everywhere and they probably find their way into the food chain much more easily than straws”, Enoch reflects.

Collective action

Regardless of one’s last name, Enoch Tabak encourages everyone at the Erasmus community to join in the campaign. “I will be doing this again next Friday at 12.30 in front of Polak. Whoever feels like joining me for half an hour or more, bring a plastic bag, something that could serve as a glove, and put some music on!”

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Campus full of cigarette butts despite a smoking ban

Erasmus University Rotterdam has been smoke-free since 2020. And yet people still smoke…