Don't be a tosser

Sustainability Victoria 2007-2008

The Don't be a Tosser - Bin Your Butts campaign anticipated an explosion in the amount of butt litter around clubs and pubs once the Victorian Government's 2007 ban on indoor smoking at licensed venues came into effect.

Audience and key messages

The campaign targeted smokers and venue operators.

  • Venue operators - The purpose of engagement with venue operators was education and encouraging actions to reduce butts outside their premises, as recommended in campaign information. The target venues were located in inner urban areas, and had been assessed as most at risk of greater butt littering.
  • Smokers - Don't be a Tosser's message pointed no fingers nor placed blame - it simply offered another perspective, and made the call to action to 'bin it'. Telling people their behaviours are intrinsically bad seldom works for behaviour change. Research shows that smokers especially, who already feel persecuted about their habit, will not respond well to more 'persecution'.

Collaboration

A Campaign Consultative Committee brought the key organisations together.

These were the Australian Hotels Association, Butt Littering Trust, City of Melbourne, Clubs Victoria, Department of Human Services, EPA Victoria, Liquor Licensing, Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Litter Action Alliance

Communication and implementation

Two thirds (just over 50) Victorian local governments utilised campaign materials and branding for local launches, promotions and litter reduction programs.

  • Media launches in Melbourne and regionally kicked off the campaign.
  • Advertising included washroom posters, superlites on bus shelters, and an award-winning radio announcement.
  • A public relations campaign ensured ongoing media and promotion, backed up with a campaign website and e-newsletters. On-the-ground 'Butt Champs' also visited venues to give patrons free personal ashtrays.
  • Toolkit by direct mail - Over 8,000 pubs, clubs, bars and other licensed venues in Victoria were mailed a Don't be a Tosser - Bin Your Butts campaign toolkit developed by Butt Free Australia.
  • Rebates were available to help premises install butt bins (i.e. an incentive).
  • Direct engagement - A central part of the methodology was encouraging others to carry out Don't be a Tosser campaigns. The Victorian Litter Action Alliance spread the campaign into local areas and audiences via local governments and regional waste management groups with presentations, issue papers, VLAA's cigarette butt prevention toolkit and enews communications.

Evaluation

The behavioural targets were:

  • Support and implementation of the campaign's actions by at least 20% of licensed premises.
  • A littering rate of under 50% by smokers at participating locations.

An independent evaluation measured pre and post 1 July behaviours and awareness, and how well the key messages had been adopted.

This was supplemented with a phone survey of 44 licensed premises venue managers, and an online survey of 59 local governments and regional waste management groups.

Results

Before the change in legislation, butt littering rates were at 58% and forecast to increase to 80%. As it is, butt littering fell to just 33% at the peak of the campaign in August 2007.

This low littering rate exceeded all expectations. In addition, 66% of smokers were binning their butts was a 42% improvement on rates before the ban.

The engagement with venues was high with 73% supporting the campaign, and 68% of venue managers displaying greater awareness and concern about butt litter.

Achievements

Don't be a Tosser proved highly successful, with zero increase in butt litter and a major increase in the number of smokers binning their butts.

The campaign showed that venues providing butt bins, displaying signage and keeping smoking areas clean encourages smokers to do the right thing.

The campaign's community announcement was also awarded two Sirens in 2008, Australia's premier radio awards.

Success factors

The campaign evaluation put its success down to four themes.Partnerships - strong strategic alliances with the hospitality industry, local governments and state government to facilitate a collective approach.

  • Partnerships - strong strategic alliances with the hospitality industry, local governments and state government to facilitate a collective approach.
  • Place - venues acting on the campaign's messages and providing facilities for butt binning.
  • Promotion - mainstream advertising and media publicity to raise awareness of butt litter generally.
  • Personal action - smokers going to the effort to bin their butts and not feeling ostracised or 'blamed' through the campaign.