No Butts About It

If you had to guess the most frequently littered item in the United States, what would it be? Plastic bottles? Food wrappers? The answer is small but carries a big impact: cigarette butts. These butts and plastic cigar filters can end up in our waterways, posing a hazard to animals and marine life when mistaken for food.

A regional Keep America Beautiful (KAB) Cigarette Litter Prevention Program was conducted last summer in seven Coastal Virginia localities, and as a result, the participating project sites saw a 74 percent reduction in litter. The results were reported by, which oversaw the KAB grant program as part of its region-wide environmental awareness and education campaign of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

Utilizing "Cigarette Butts = Litter" messaging, outreach events and the placement of cigarette butt receptacles to entice smokers not to litter, the prevention program was conducted for eight weeks at project sites in Hampton, James City County, Newport News; Norfolk, Portsmouth; Suffolk and Virginia Beach.

In a pre-scan of the sites, volunteers found 3,223 cigarette butts and plastic cigar tips, and the post-scan showed that all project sites saw a dramatic difference, with Portsmouth's nTelos Wireless Pavilion showing the largest decrease in cigarette litter (95 percent).

As part of the $12,500 KAB grant, the localities were provided with 35 new free-standing and wall-mounted cigarette butt receptacles to be placed in strategic site locations, in addition to 4,000 hand-held pocket ashtrays and 1,000 portable auto ashtrays to be distributed to adult smokers. Additional project resources were provided by, which contributed new signage, guiding smokers to the receptacles, and educational materials, emphasizing the impact of cigarette butt litter.

Here's a guide to cigarette litter prevention

Categories: Current Conditions