Cigarette Litter Prevention Program

CigButts_1327Since becoming involved with Keep America Beautiful, I have started a Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in Hillsboro Village. Today, I did the preliminary scan walking from the post office on Acklen to 21st to Belcourt and back to the post office on Acklen. I counted 400 plus cigarette butts on the sidewalks. Most were in front of Fido’s and Jackson’s. Fido’s has a cigarette ash receptacle in front of their coffee shop, but it was overflowing.

When I initially walked the area two weeks ago, I noticed that the cigarette ash receptacle was full.

My next step will be to talk with the restaurant and bar owners in the village to see if they will distribute portable cigarette ashtrays.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cigarette litter is a huge problem worldwide and a causes massive long term damage to the environment. It is a growing problem too often overlooked or underestimated.

    It’s partly a problem of perception. People often seem to think that their tiny piece of disgarded smoking waste is too small to make a difference – or persuade themselves that everyone ‘else does it so why bother to dispose considerately’.

    Indeed, many cigarette smokers simply don’t think their cigarette butt will make any difference to the environment or assume that someone at the Council or Municipality is paid to pick up litter so there is no need for them to dispose of their cigarette ends considerately.

    It does not matter that cigarette ends are small – just like chewing gum – they ‘are’ litter as defined under UK law and local authorities across the UK are now levying on the spot Fixed Penalty Notices of up to £100 where litter wardens catch someone dropping cigarette ends or gum.

    In the UK it’s possible for fines of up to £2,500 to be applied in a Magistrates Court for dropping litter however small and Councils are taking a much tougher line to help change people’s behaviour.

    Research has shown that many smokers believe they are actually being responsible by dropping their cigarette end onto the pavement to grind it out under foot and make sure their cigarette end cannot start a fire.

    The following facts gathered from Encams (Keep Britain Tidy), CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) and other research studies highlight the scale of the problem and the threats to the environment posed by inconsiderately discarded micro litter such as cigarette ends and chewed gum.

    • The most frequently cited reason for gum and butts littering is no convenient point of disposal – no bins or not enough bins.
    • Chewing gum is used by 28 million people in the UK.
    • 200 million cigarette butts are thrown away each day in the UK. (Source:ENCAMS)
    • In the UK alone more than a billion packs of chewing gum are sold each year.
    • Each piece of gum dropped costs from 10p to 30p remove.
    • It costs approximately £20,000 to clean up chewing gum in an average town centre. The clean up has to be carried out several times each year. (Source:ENCAMS)
    • 122 tons of cigarette butts and cigarette related litter is dropped every day in the UK. (Source: ENCAMS)
    • It takes 17 weeks to remove chewing gum from Oxford Street, but only 10 days for the street to be covered in gum again.
    • Street cleaning in the UK costs upwards of £413m each year– this is paid for by council taxes.
    • Chewed gum takes up to 5 years to biodegrade.
    • As the anti-smoking lobby’s campaign gains momentum, employers are banning smoking from not only indoor areas but outdoor areas too – employees are forced out on to public
    spaces where the facilities are limited to non-existent.
    • A full smoking ban in pubs and clubs is likely to substantially increase the cigarette litter burden.
    • In Ireland, 61% of people believe litter from smoking has risen since the Republic introduced a similar ban back in March 2004. ■ “Without proper facilities,smokers will turn our streets into a giant ashtray,”said Alan Woods,Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy. “Cigarette butts,boxes and matches are already our biggest litter problem,blighting 90% of our high streets – so we need to act now and ensure smokers have what they need to dispose of their rubbish correctly.”
    • In the UK,cigarettes account for over 40% of street litter.(Source:ENCAMS)
    • Up to 3.5 billion deposits of gum have at one time or another been spat or dropped on to our streets.
    • 92 per cent ofcity paving stones have had gum stuck to them.

    Local Authorities across the world work hard to stem the flow of this kind of litter to prevent it wreaking havoc on the environment.

    The answer is a combination of provision (of better more convenient disposal facilities), education (communicating the damage caused by this kind of litter and making people aware of considerate disposal options) and enforcement (penalizing people who drop cigarette and other forms of litter).

    The problem is increasingly attracting the attention of product designers and developers.

    Smartstreets, we have developed some highly innovative, award winning new disposal solutions for cigarette and gum litter which have been proven to massively reduce smoking related litter where employed.

    The multiple patent applied Smartstreets-Smartbin has won two international product design awards and for the first time, enables local authorities and street scene managers to install more litter bins in more places without adding clutter to the built environment by providing litter bins solutions that look good and retrofit ‘around’ exiting uprights such as light columns and sign posts as well as fitting onto walls and railings.

    Complementing existing street furniture and providing a neat, safe and effective cigarette bin in regularly spaced positions has been shown to almost eradicate cigarette litter in high-footfall areas.

    Manchester Council in the UK monitored their Smartstreets-Smartbins and proved that a twin, post-mounted Smartbin will gather up to 25,000 cigarette butts and pieces of gum every year. To see some galleries of over 40 Coucil customer installations around the world you can visit or

    Manchester Council’s independent trials showed that a network of 300 Smartstreets-Smartbins in high footfall areas (such as the networks in the City of London and the London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey and Enfield) will collect up to 7.5 million cigarette butts and pieces of gum per year – that’s almost 30 metric tonnes of micro litter kept off the streets by these post mounted cigarette litter bins.

    Smartstreets are product designers who manufacture a wide range of unique cigarette and gum litter solutions – apart from Smartstreets-Smartbins (post and wall, railing mounted cigarette bins and gum bins) their product range includes Smartstreets-Minibins (personal, pocket ashtrays), Smartstreets-Gumsticks (gum board style solutions) and now, quick fit bicycle parking stations for Councils and private businesses which retro-fit to existing sign posts to provide dedicated bicycle parking using existing street furniture to reduce clutter.

    Cigarette litter is a menace and a massive threat to the environment the world over, If you would like further information about Smartstreets range of cigarette and gum litter solutions, please visit or call +44 (0)20 8742 3223.

  2. 2

    Wow, I never thought about this angle before. One more solid reason that people should be switching to an electronic cigarette. No ash, no smoke no tar and now, no trash. You’d have to be an idiot to toss a device that cost you $50-$150 on the ground!

    Now, to the point of the article (which is very well writeen, incidentally). Back in the late 70’s, then-Mayor of Baltimore, William Schaeffer, came up with the simplest idea in the world to clean up the city. He made sure that there was a trash can at all four corners of every intersection and that they were emptied regularly. He made the cans look like basketball hoops with nets and put a “backboard” on all of them. Within a month, the city no longer had trash littering the streets. Everyone was now playing “Trash Ball.”

    The simplests of ideas often deliver the best results. If you can get the restaurant and bar owners to cooperate, you might be surprised at the results. Then again, smokers are so used to tossing their butts wherever they want, some may not even notice. Best of all would be having a sign that read “please deposit your cigarette butts here!”

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