Cigarette butts are the bane of a city’s existence: you can find them almost everywhere, smashed flat on the footpaths, stubbed into planter boxes, drifting into the gutters like tube-shaped snow. While some public spaces offer ways to dispose of those lipstick-rimmed filters, most smokers simply use the street as an open ashtray.
The Dutch design firm Ioglo invented something they call Fumo, an ashtray in the form of a modified “smokers pole” that rewards smokers for properly disposing of their butts. A tall cylindrical pole with a cigarette tucked into the top acts as a landmark for smokers to gather around, and then, when they’re finished sucking down their nicotine, they place the butt in one of the pole’s slots. That’s when the fun begins.
For every cigarette that’s trashed, the pole lights up like a disco and plays one of 50 sound clips at random, ranging from techno to a gospel choir to a hearty Homer Simpson “D’oh!”
The idea is ostensibly to reward smokers for good behaviour: “Why shouldn’t we give smokers a reward instead of punishing them? Why shouldn’t we add fun in order to change people’s behaviour for the better?” asks the project’s website. But while this might make smokers more likely to dispose of their butts at this particular location, it doesn’t really solve the problem anywhere else.
Besides, wouldn’t it really be better to somehow reward people for not lighting up in the first place? Smokers should be publicly shamed, not given an arcade game for their pack-a-day habit. Where’s the interactive ashtray that puts on a song and dance for people who quit? [Ioglo]