Skip links

#15 Cigarette Butts

#15 Cigarette Butts

Are you aware that discarded cigarette butts are the most collected item in worldwide beach cleanups annually? The Keep America Beautiful program surveyed Americans and found that 77% didn’t think cigarette butts were litter. In fact, cigarette butts are a form of non-biodegradable litter that pollute streets, rivers, and oceans worldwide.

Up in smoke, litter is no joke.

With 1 billion cigarette smokers worldwide, the environmental impact of cigarette butts is substantial. It is estimated that trillions of toxic cigarette butts have been discarded into the environment – and with over 5 trillion cigarettes produced annually – it’s bound to get worse. Shifting our mindset on the proper disposal of cigarette butts is necessary for the health of our environment.

Facts on Cigarettes:

  • Approximately 10 million cigarettes are purchased every minute, worldwide.
  • 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered annually.
  • More than one-third of all litter collected is made up of cigarette butts.
  • Cities spend between 3 and 16 million dollars annually on cigarette cleanup.
  • Cigarette butts are toxic waste; containing plastics, tar and arsenic.
  • Cigarettes do not break down naturally. Depending on conditions – cigarettes can take up to 8 years to break down.

How can I make an impact?

Action 1: Global Goodness

  • Stop smoking.
  • Let family members and friends know the risks of smoking and its effect on their health, and the health of the environment.
  • If you see cigarette litter on the ground, do your part by picking it up.

Action 2: Planet Protector

  • All of Action 1.
  • Lobby your local businesses to invest in cigarette waste receptacles. Studies showed that for every cigarette receptacle added – cigarette litter dropped by 9%.
  • Host a cigarette butt cleanup. Gather your community to clean up cigarette waste.

Action 3: Earth Angel

  • All of Actions 1 & 2.
  • Support causes that end tobacco use. The more awareness we spread about tobacco use, the more we will see a reduction in smoking – thus reducing the amount of cigarette waste.
  • Lobby the tobacco industry to improve their materials. Ask them to produce more biodegradable, environmentally friendly filters.
  • Choose to be an Ambassador for Change, and always Spread Love and Spread Light.
Return to top of page