cigarette butts toronto

Toronto wants smokers to stop littering with cigarette butts

Most people would be disgusted, in 2019, to see someone casually discard a can of pop by throwing it onto the street. Same goes for food wrappers, water bottles, grocery bags—anything, really, except for cigarettes.

Somehow, flicking butts has become a common and accepted practice across North America despite the fact that cigarettes are not, in fact, readily biodegradable.

The cellulose acetate in cigarette filters can take up to 12 years to break down and, even then, they don't go away completely. The substances within them are also toxic to the environment.

Most people who complain about spring butts, however, simply think they look gross.

You see, like dog poop, cigarette butts don't magically disappear when they're tossed into the snow. 

Instead, they lie in wait to be revealed when the weather changes, lining sidewalks in numbers not seen during any other time of year.

As Toronto loses the last of its snow and more and more litter emerges on the ground, city officials are reminding residents once again that cigarette garbages do exist. They can be found in all city-owned trash cans right under the regular litter hole.

"Cigarette butts make up a large part of Toronto's litter, can take years to break down and contain toxic chemicals that can be released into our environment," reads an information page about litter on the city's website.

"Toronto street litter/recycling bins have a special receptacle designated for cigarette butt disposal," the page continues. "If you don't have access to a street litter receptacle, make sure your cigarette is completely extinguished and cooled, and then dispose of it in the garbage."

Do not, however, toss cigarettes into garden planters. Toronto Fire Services warns that this can "quickly lead to fires."

"Small items such as cigarette butts and gum are the most littered items in Toronto," says the city. "Help keep Toronto's streets, sidewalks and parks clean by putting litter where it belongs, in public waste bins."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert


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