Cigarette Butts and German Society

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Research About Cigarette Butts and Large Groups of Humans
compiled by Stephen Drew, Improbable Research staff

Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany (1972)

“The Effect of the Economic Depression on the Length of Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany/Die Auswirkung der wirtschaftlichen Rezession auf die Länge der Cigarettenstummel in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,” W. Schulz and F. Seehofer, Beiträge zur Tabakforschung/Contributions to Tobacco Research, vol. 8, no. 7, 1976, pp. 455-458. The authors, at B·A·T Cigaretten-Fabriken GmbH, Forschung und Entwicklung, Hamburg, report:

The influence of the economic depression on the length of cigarette butts in the Federal Republic of Germany was investigated in the summer of 1974. After the interruption of the continual increase in the butt lengths of filter cigarettes and plain cigarettes by the tobacco tax rise on 1st September 1972, there was a further decrease in the butt lengths until August. This was 0.44 mm for filter cigarettes and 1.5 mm for plain cigarettes.

Detail from the study “The Effect of the Economic Depression on the Length of Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany/ Die Auswirkung der wirtschaftlichen Rezession auf die Länge der Cigarettenstummel in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.”

Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany (1986)
“The Effect of the Increase of Tobacco Tax on 1st of June 1982 on the Length of Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany — Die Auswirkung der Tabaksteuererhöhung vom 1. Juni 1982 auf die Länge der Zigarettenstummel in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland,” W. Schulz, Beiträge zur Tabakforschung/Contributions to Tobacco Research, vol. 13, no. 4, 1986, pp. 215-218. The authors report:

The butts of cigarettes of different origins and product categories (35 383 in all) were examined. Evaluation of the results according to filter and plain cigarettes shows that because of the tax increase in 1982 the butts were shorter than those of previous years.... Since 1978/1979 the butts were on average 0.4 mm and 1.3 mm shoner for fillter and plain cigarettes respectively.

Detail from the study “The Effect of the Increase of Tobacco Tax on 1st of June 1982  on the Length of Cigarette Butts in the Federal Republic of Germany — Die Auswirkung der Tabaksteuererhöhung vom 1. Juni 1982 auf die Länge der Zigarettenstummel in dermBundesrepublik Deutschland.”

Cigarette Butts and the Building of Socialism in East Germany
“Cigarette Butts and the Building of Socialism in East Germany,” Young-sun Hong, Central European History, vol. 35, no. 3, 2002, pp. 327-344. The author is at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

A Cigarette-Butt-Based Archaeological Ethnography
This study is not specifically about cigarette butts in Germany, but it extends the tradition of the studies cited above.

“Cigarette as Artifact: An Archaeological Ethnography of Bars, Smoking, and Social Identity on the Urban Landscape,” Anthony P. Graesch and Timothy Hartshorn, poster presented at Society for American Archaeology Annual Meetings, Austin, TX, April 23-27, 2014. (Thanks to David Lettvin for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Connecticut College, explain:

Cigarettes are... among the most ubiquitous and tolerated forms of trash on the urban landscape, especially outside drinking establishments, where social identities are created, negotiated, and defended. Drawing on data collected at 24 sites, including over 30,000 artifacts, this poster highlights the ways that social group affiliation or social identity is reflected and/or indexed by the spatial distribution of more than 350 unique types of cigarettes.

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This article is republished with permission from the July-August 2017 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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