Cigarettes are the most littered item globally. An estimated 65% of all cigarettes are tossed on the ground instead of placed in an ashtray or waste receptacle. They also make up 32% of all litter items collected by Keep America Beautiful’s cleanup volunteers. In Canada, over 8,000 tonnes of cigarette butts each year – that’s about the same weight as three HMCS Haida warships fully loaded with fuel and boiler water!
Cigarette filters contain a type of plastic called cellulose acetate, which can take 18 months to 12 years to break down, depending on environmental conditions, but will not decompose naturally. Cigarettes contain toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and formaldehyde, which can leach into the environment, contaminate water and poison fish and animals. Volunteers collected 244,734 cigarette butts from Canadian shorelines in 2017 to help protect our waterways.
Cigarette litter prevention tips
- Never flick cigarette butts on the ground or out of your vehicle window while driving.
- Look for ashtrays on the top of the City of Hamilton’s garbage receptacles on sidewalks and other outdoor areas.
- Carry a pocket ashtray to safely extinguish and store cigarette butts if there are no ashtrays nearby.
- Cigarette butts can be recycled! Consider if TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Recycling program is right for you.
- Only smoke in areas where smoking is permitted under the Smoke Free Ontario Act and the City of Hamilton’s bylaws regulating smoking in public places and workplaces (PDF, 199 KB) and smoking in City parks and recreation areas.
- Always place cigarette butts in an ashtray or garbage receptacle once they are extinguished.
- Business owners may provide ashtrays outside their building and remind customers and employees to use the ashtray.
- Clean the sidewalk in front of your business or home regularly to prevent cigarette butts from piling up.
- Provide ashtrays and garbage receptacles in public areas where smoking is permitted.
- Clean and maintain City-owned ashtrays and garbage receptacles on a regular basis.
- Provide resources and training for volunteer groups who want to help clean up cigarette butts and other litter items in parks, roads etc. such as the Team Up to Clean Up program.
- Increase awareness and engage residents and businesses through public education and outreach programs.
- Investigate complaints related to smoking in City parks, recreation areas and other areas where smoking is prohibited under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. Learn more about smoke and vape free areas.
- Hamilton Public Health Services offers programs to help people quit smoking. To learn about the different programs that are available, please visit www.hamilton.ca/tobacco.
Project Partners & Supporters
The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. We also acknowledge and thank the following organizations for their support: The Keep Hamilton Clean & Green Committee, Downtown BIA, International Village BIA, Barton Village BIA, Green Venture, and A Greener Future.
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