Why it matters

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.1 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 Much of this ends up in our waterways. The Ocean Conservancy’s 2012 International Coastal Cleanup showed cigarette butts as the most littered item, representing 32% of all items collected, and 2% of smoking-related debris was cigar tips.3

Why do smokers litter? 63% of cigarette butt littering is attributable to individual motivations.2 Mostly, it’s lack of awareness about the environmental impact and insufficient ash receptacles. New ordinances are also moving more smokers outdoors or to designated areas, and over the past decade auto makers have phased out ash trays as a standard feature in new cars.4

Here’s why littering cigarette butts and cigar tips, an emerging concern, matters: it's unsightly, costly to clean up, and harmful to waterways and wildlife.

Get the facts:

1 "America Reaches Major Anti-Smoking Milestone," The American Legacy Foundation, November 19, 2008.
2 "Litter in America" 2009 KAB Research.
3 2012 Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup. (2013 data release)
4 Nadeem Muaddi, “Whatever Happened to Car Ashtrays?” The Hog Ring, April 28, 2013.


There is a real need for more education to change (smokers’ littering) behavior.


Karen Hauck,
of Keep Charleston Beautiful, SC

How To Do It

Download cigarette butt litter “key findings” from the Keep America Beaut National Litter Study

The Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup consistently identifies cigarette butts as the number one most littered item. See the latest results.

As of January 2013, 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have some type of smoke-free workplace law

A Keep America Beautiful partnership with the BoatUS Foundation found that, on average, marinas that participated in the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program saw a 50% decrease in cigarette butt litter -- and nearly half saw reductions of 70% or greater.