The Problem & Facts

In the past decade, cigarette smoking in America has decreased 28%, yet cigarette butts remain the most littered item in the U.S. and across the globe.Dropping cigarette butts and cigar tips to the ground, putting them in planters, and disposing of them in waterways is littering.

The overall littering rate for cigarette butts is 65%, and tobacco products comprise 38% of all U.S. roadway litter.2 

Cigarette butt littering is often associated with the physical environment (38%), i.e. for every additional ash receptacle, the littering rate for cigarette butts decreases by 9%. Cigarette butt littering is also attributable to individual motivations; for example, 77% of individuals in a survey stated they did not consider cigarette butts as litter.2

Though cigarette butts may be small, when they are carelessly dropped to the ground instead of properly disposed of, their litter has a big effect.

When smokers litter their cigarette butts:

  • Community quality of life suffers and can result in a decline in a city’s foot traffic, tourism, business development, and the value of housing. In fact, the presence of litter in a community decreases property values by a little over 7%.¹ 
  • The appeal of public spaces, such as beaches and waterfronts, ball fields and parks, and picnic areas and hiking trails decreases.
  • Fire hazards that impacts local wildlife and eventually contributes to lost economic development opportunities can occur.

More Information on Cigarette Litter:

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1 "America Reaches Major Anti-Smoking Milestone," The American Legacy Foundation, Nov. 19, 2008.
2 "Litter in America" 2009 KAB Research.