Cigarette Litter Prevention

Lasting Harms of Cigarette Litter 

Did you know that cigarette butts are the most littered item in the U.S.? According to research done by Keep America Beautiful, many of the same people who would never litter a plastic bottle or food wrapper simply don’t think twice about tossing cigarette butts on the ground. This leads to tobacco litter making up:

  • 38% of roadway litter
  • 32% of litter in storm drains
  • 32% of litter in outdoor recreation areas

Cigarette butts are harmful to the environment. It is a common misconception that cigarette butts will biodegrade. Cigarette filters are actually made with plastic that will persist on land and in water for a long time. Beyond being an eyesore, cigarette butts also contain harmful chemicals such as lead and arsenic which can leach into soil and water. Wildlife also ingests cigarette butts, mistaking them for food which may result in illness or death. Furthermore, littered cigarette butts can also cause damage to property and landscaping by starting accidental fires.


Big Butts

The County has a set of Big Butts, a clever art display that draws attention to how unsightly cigarettes butts are. This display is rotated around County properties throughout the year. If you are interested in borrowing these for an event, email the Clean County Commission here.  Watch this video to make your own set out of PVC. 


Cigarette Litter Prevention

Everyone can help keep roadways, waterways and public spaces cigarette litter-free by following these tips from Keep America Beautiful’s Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.


  • Before you light up, identify where you will dispose of your cigarette waste when you finish smoking. 
  • Carry a pocket ashtray as you leave your home, office or car.
  • Encourage fellow smokers to be responsible for their cigarette litter, too.


  • Educate your employees about the importance of individual responsibility for a clean and safe working environment.
  • Provide ash and trash receptacles at entrances, exits, picnic areas as well as in parking lots and along walkways of your business. Remember, these should be placed where the people generally gather. 

Cigarette Butt Receptacle Interest Form

The Clean County Commission offers a limited number of cigarette receptacles to businesses and organizations in James City County. Complete the interest form below.