Skip to content

Cigarette Butt Litter Fact Sheet

Lansing Community College is tobacco free to provide a healthy and safe environment for students, staff, and visitors.

Globally, approximately 4.3 trillioncigarette butts are littered every year. Smokers in the USA account for over 250 billion cigarette butts, in the UK 200 tons of butts are discarded, and Australian smokers litter over 7 billion cigarette butts annually. In most Western countries cigarette butt litter accounts for around 50% of all litter.

Every littered cigarette butt can take anywhere from two to twenty-five years to biodegrade.

Dropped cigarette butts have been the cause of house and apartment fires, as well as some of the largest and most destructive forest fires. Fires caused by cigarette butts claim the lives of about 1,000 people and injure about 3,000 people each year.

Cigarettes are very often littered within ten feet of a permanent ashtray.

Smokers who are made aware of the litter problem are most often cooperative in disposing of their cigarette litter properly.

According to the Center for Marine Conservation, cigarette butt litter accounts for one in every five items collected on cleanups, making it the most prevalent form of litter ON EARTH.

Animals, marine life, and toddlers who ingest dropped cigarette butts can become ill or die from them.

80% of butts on the ground find their way into our water systems and detract from the quality of our drinking water. Cigarette butts can leach chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into our marine environment within an hour of contact with water. Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, whales, birds and other marine animals which leads to ingestion of hazardous chemicals and digestive blockages.