New Online Tool Launches to Combat Smoke, Vaping and Littering on Campus

cigarette butts on the ground

UC Davis is known for having one of the most sustainable campuses in the country.

Our classes in the fields, arboretum, horse barns, and most importantly – our clean air contribute to that. UC Davis is also committed to giving our students, faculty, staff and academic members a voice and a platform to be heard.

In an ongoing effort to keep our campus clean and to give our community an opportunity to influence policy, UC Davis is piloting a smoke, tobacco, and litter tracking tool called Breathe Free Tracker.

In what began as a research partnership with CSU Marcos under the name Aggie Air, has quickly evolved into a successful initiative to monitor tobacco use and waste on campus. In fact, Dr. Elisa Tong from UC Davis Health wrote and put together the grant that allowed this pilot to take off.

“Both the UCs and CSUs have a systemwide smoke and tobacco-free policy, and we have all been looking for ways to support the policy and engage the campus community”, said Dr. Tong.

The tracker collects real-time data about tobacco waste and use trends around campus and also includes usage on e-cigarettes, vapes and JUULs. Information collected from the tracker will allow UC Davis make informed decisions on the Smoke and Tobacco Free policy. 

“We’re excited to roll out the tool and work collaboratively toward a healthier campus”, said Keavagh Clift, Program Coordinator for Breathe Free. “The tracker provides the UC Davis community with an opportunity to get involved and make a difference on campus.”

Breathe Free Tracker will allow anyone on campus to identify smoke/litter areas or hotspots on campus and at Health and let UC Davis know how frequently it is happening. Hotspots are areas where there is a high concentration of smoke or tobacco waste or smoke.

Since the Breathe Free Tracker launched in March 2019, there have been 495 uses of the tool. A map of results can be seen here. If the tracker continues to be widely used, leadership on campus will be able to utilize data from the tracker for policy decision-making purposes.

The tracker will also help address the urgent need for innovative tools to support the Smoke and Tobacco Free initiative by using a crowdsourcing-based, online tracking tool to identify tobacco waste and active use on campus. This research intends to address the critical problem of engaging the campus community with its Smoke and Tobacco Free policy and creating a culture which supports and informs success of the initiative.