Cigarette Litter Down 2% in 2009, KAB Reports

Keep America Beautiful (KAB) reports this year that there has been an average nationwide reduction of cigarette litter of 48 percent, a 2 percent improvement from 2008 in the communities implementing KAB's Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP).

The nation's largest program aimed at combating cigarette litter is in its seventh year, and this year has been implemented in more than 200 locations across the country. Locations for implementation included downtowns, roadways, beaches, parks, marinas and special events.

Tobacco products, including cigarette butts, are the most-littered item in America, representing nearly 38 percent of all items, according to 'Litter in America,' Keep America Beautiful's landmark 2009 study of litter and littering behavior. In response to this long-standing issue, Keep America Beautiful expanded the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program during the last seven years with support from Philip Morris USA, an Altria company.

Research shows that individuals who would never litter items such as beverage cans or paper packaging may not consider tossing cigarette butts on the ground 'littering.' Keep America Beautiful has found that cigarette butt litter occurs most often at transition points ─ areas where a person must stop smoking before proceeding into another area. These include bus stops, entrances to stores and public buildings, and the sidewalk areas outside of bars and restaurants, among others.

As with littering in general, the majority of cigarette butt litter (62 percent) was attributable to personal variables (individual characteristics including age and gender as well as motivational variables including awareness, attitudes and feelings of personal responsibility), while 38 percent was because of the contextual demands (primarily lack of disposal infrastructure). Also consistent with the finding for general litter, availability and convenience of ash receptacles was predictive of littering, as was the presence of existing litter (of any type, not necessarily cigarette butt litter).

In 2009, KAB surveyed 21 communities that had implemented the program successfully in the past, to see if the reduction in littered cigarette butts was sustained. While two communities reported increased litter, attributed to the loss of ash receptacles, reduced street sweeping, and a new smoking ban, an average overall reduction of 47 percent was noted.

To make a sustainable difference in lowering the amount of cigarette litter, the Keep America Beautiful Cigarette Litter Prevention Program recommends communities integrate four proven approaches: supporting enforcement of litter laws that include cigarette litter; raising awareness near about the issue using public service messages; placing ash receptacles at transition points such as entrances to public buildings; and distributing pocket ashtrays to adult smokers.

The 'Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention,' information about starting and maintaining a Cigarette Litter Prevention program in your community, can be found online at www.PreventCigaretteLitter.org.

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