Smokers' Impact

Smokers' Responsibilities

Smokers discount the impact of cigarette butt litter. A 2008 survey of over 1,000 smokers found that 35% toss five or more cigarette butts per pack on the ground.¹ Because a cigarette butt is small, smokers tend to overlook the consequences of littering.² Cigarette litter research in Australia found that many smokers:

  • Don't believe littering their cigarette butts is inappropriate behavior; some believe they're acting responsibly by dropping cigarettes to the ground and stepping on them to extinguish them
  • Consider dropping butts into gutters or storm drains a safe way to extinguish a cigarette ³
  • Blame their littering on a lack of well-placed bins for cigarette butts - over 80% of smokers said they would properly dispose of their butts if suitable bins were available

Most cigarette littering happens at transition points. These are areas where a smoker must extinguish a cigarette before proceeding, such as outside retail stores, hotels, and office buildings; before entering beaches, parks, or other recreation areas; and at roadside rest areas, parking lots, bus shelters, and train platforms. Messages about cigarette butt litter and ash receptacles at transition points are an important catalyst for changing behavior.


  • ¹ iQ Research and Consulting. "Keep America Beautiful Pocket Ashtray Study," January 2008
  • ² McGregor Marketing for Keep Australia Beautiful, 1998
  • ³ Sweeney Research for Tobacco Information Centre and Keep South Australia Beautiful, 2000