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Cigarette Butt Litter

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KPSLB Awarded Cigarette Litter Prevention Program Grant

Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, announced it has awarded Keep Port St. Lucie Beautiful with one of fifty grants given to Keep America Beautiful community-based affiliates and partner organizations for its 2019 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP), designed to help communities combat the most commonly littered item in America.

KPSLB collaborated with key City departments to create a Litter Eradication Action Plan (LEAP). Within this plan, it discussed the critical importance of integrating strategic goals for effective litter prevention.

Cigarette Litter Prevention Flyer

An effective local Cigarette Litter Prevention Program includes four proven, field-tested strategies for reducing cigarette butt litter:

  • Review local litter laws, including cigarette butt litter, and support enforcement.
  • Raise awareness about the issue of proper cigarette butt disposal and marine debris using public service messages;
  • Place ash receptacles at transition points such as entrances to beaches; and
  • Distribute pocket or portable ashtrays to adult smokers who enjoy the areas surrounding and within waterways

Once cigarettes are on the ground they can end up in storm drains and stream into rivers and waterways, potentially harming marine life.

Cigarette Butt Education

Cigarette butts are the most frequently littered items in the United States today. Tobacco products make up roughly 38 percent of all U.S. roadway litter and comprise nearly 30 percent of litter at "transition points", which are defined as areas where individuals consuming a food or tobacco product must discard the product before entering, such as the entrances to office buildings or retail stores.

Because a cigarette butt is relatively small, smokers tend to overlook the consequences of littering. Some believe they're acting responsibly when they extinguish cigarettes by dropping them on the ground. But those butts don't disappear. About 95 percent of cigarette filters are comprised of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment. Depending on the conditions of the area where the cigarette butt is discarded, it can take 18 months to 10 years for it to decompose.

Some smokers also erroneously assume that dropping butts into gutters or drains is a safe way to extinguish them. Many of those cigarette butts travel through stormwater systems and end up in local streams and rivers polluting waterways. Cigarette butt litter can also pose a hazard to animals and marine life when they mistake the filters for food.

A 2009 Keep America Beautiful litter study revealed a 65 percent littering rate among smokers. Both the availability of ash receptacles and the amount of existing litter affected the littering rate. Smokers are more likely to litter when an ash receptacle or trash can is not close by. Littering is also more likely to occur when the environment contains any type of litter, not just cigarette butts.

Study results show that smokers under 30 years old are more likely to litter than those individuals who are older. It stated that age, and not gender, is a significant predictor of littering behavior.

Visit these websites or more information about cigarette litter:

Tackling the Problem

Preventing cigarette litter requires changing individual behavior. Smokers are encouraged to properly dispose of cigarettes butts in ash receptacles and trash cans, or to use a pocket ashtray when receptacles are not available. For every additional ash receptacle, the littering rate for cigarette butts decreases 9 percent. Businesses and facilities should consider increasing the number of available trash cans and ash receptacles at their establishment if cigarette litter persists.

There are 1.1 billion smokers in the world today, and if current trends continue, the number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2025. If you're a smoker thinking about quitting, there are many resources and programs available. Cigarettes pollute the air we breathe and the ground we walk on. When you quit smoking you're contributing to the health and well-being of your environment and your body.

Visit these websites or more information about how to quit smoking:

Litter Stands

Litter Stand

In partnership with Keep America Beautiful, KAB affiliates and partner organizations have an opportunity to participate in a Philip Morris USA initiative. Philip Morris will place 10,000 litter stands to collect cigarette butts in communities nationwide and educate adult smokers 21+ on the importance of disposing of their cigarette butts properly.

Adult smokers are being given the opportunity to enter locations (city and zip code) on a map to indicate where they would like to see a litter stand installed. As stands are placed, an interactive map will populate featuring local stories and showing locations that have been selected.

Keep America Beautiful & Philip Morris USA request your help in finding locations to place litter stands to provide opportunities for adult smokers to dispose of their cigarette butts properly.


  • Location Map ExampleInstall the litter stand(s) in an accessible place (e.g., outside entrance to retail location, or transition point where adult smokers commonly dispose of cigarette butts). Hardware is included to mount each receptacle.
  • Maintain litter stand(s) (e.g., regularly empty cigarette butts into garbage).
  • Share the GPS coordinates of each litter stand’s location with KAB to include on the interactive map. GPS coordinates can be identified in several ways:
    • Enter the litter stand location/address into and record coordinates.
    • Using Google Maps, right-click the place on the map. Select “What’s Here?”. At the bottom of the map, a card with coordinates will appear.

Why Participate?

  • For every additional litter stand, the littering rate for cigarette butts decreases 9%.
  • The majority of smokers said they would properly dispose of their butts if suitable receptacles were available.
  • Litter stands and hardware are offered for free.

Litter Stand Specs/Photos

  • Manufactured by Sidewalk Buttler
  • Dimensions: 4” x 4” x 14”
  • Made of aluminum with black powder coating
  • Empties from the bottom, by removing the shackle lock
  • Shackle lock & two nuts and bolts are included with the litter stand

Questions? Contact KAB via email at