As increased ordinances continue to limit smoking within public places, more individuals have been forced to retreat outdoors for a smoke. As a result, cigarette litter is on the rise, caused by tossing cigarette butts onto sidewalks and other grounds. Partially smoked cigarettes, matches, discarded lighters, and companion packaging also add to the littered debris. Recent studies show that cigarette litter represents more than 20 percent of litter collected in many municipal clean-up initiatives. Besides defacing landscapes and escalating sanitation costs, cigarette litter can endanger the environment. For instance, cigarette butts, which consist of cellulose acetate, take many years to decompose. If ingested, the residual nicotine can pose health hazards for wildlife. To address the mounting, nationwide problem of cigarette litter, various resources are available from Keep America Beautiful (KAB), Inc., a nonprofit, community improvement organization based in Stamford, CT. Thanks to a grant from Philip Morris, U.S.A., our nations largest cigarette producer, KAB researched the cigarette-litter problem over a three-year period in more than a dozen large and small communities. By initiating various strategies, KAB reduced cigarette litter by an average of 46 percent in the communities tested. Strategies included educating smokers about the problem, encouraging facilities to place ash receptacles at outdoor sites, and urging smokers to use pocket ashtrays. The strategies were recently compiled into a Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention, available as a free CD-ROM to government leaders, community groups, and businesses. For more information, or to request the free CD-ROM, circle the Reader Card or link to the vendor online.

Keep America Beautiful (KAB), Inc., Stamford, CT