No Ifs, Ands, or Cigarette Butts: Israeli Campaign Against Cigarette Butts

cigarette pollution smokingI’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I didn’t know that cigarette butts were an environmental issue. I’m also not a smoker, so I never gave it much thought. But Hanan Shteingart – co-founder of “Eretz Lelo Bdalim” (Country Without Cigarette Butts) and anti-cigarette butt activist extraordinaire – recently brought our attention to this important and pervasive issue.

Hanan decided to take action after constantly seeing the beaches full of cigarette butts and was inspired by his sister, who even asks drivers who toss cigarette butts out of their car windows to get out and pick them up.

Anyone who’s visited Israel knows that smoking here isn’t taboo. It’s no New York, where you have to go out onto the street to light up. And unfortunately, a whole lot of garbage comes hand in hand with a whole lot of smokers. Approximately 80% of all cigarette butts aren’t thrown out in the trash, but rather tossed onto streets or beaches.

They’re definitely unsightly, but more significantly – cigarette butts are really bad for the environment. Here’s a brief list of some of their top environmental offenses:

Cigarette buttsbdalim smoking pollution petition do not biodegrade because the filters are made partially from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic.

They end up in the water supply where the filters release a whole bunch of nasty toxic chemicals.

Birds and wildlife mistake them for food, thus poisoning the poor creatures.

They cause forest fires when disposed of incorrectly or tossed out of moving cars.

So what can you do?

Eretz Lelo Bdalim has a petition on their website (that hundreds of people have already signed) and they hope to cause legislative action to take place. You could also take it one step further and sign up to be a Cleanliness Trustee with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which gives you the power to hand out littering tickets to offenders.

Read more about individual environmental activism:: Are You An Environmental Hero? and Ready, Set, Recycle!

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12 thoughts on “No Ifs, Ands, or Cigarette Butts: Israeli Campaign Against Cigarette Butts”

  1. Wake Up says:

    there is no right answer for this, other then to quit smoking (I am a smoker) or for the cigarette companies to make a difference in their butt composition. If we can put a man on the moon we should be able to make a chemical locking biodegradable cigarette butt. Or we should think of a better place to put them then in our environment. Regardless if they go in the landfill or public environment, the buggers still leak chemicals into our environment for over 75 years. 🙁

  2. Joyce Karr says:

    I just spent the last 1 and a half hours searching the internet to find the cheapest e-cigarette kits. The best deal I can find is $20 for the 2 piece e-cig (the best kind they make) and it comes with 4 cartridges and a charger. just google this ’20 dollar smoke’

  3. Ricky AUDAIN says:

    It is estimated that several billion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year – WHERE THERE IS SMOKE – THERE IS FIRE

    ButtLess Personal Ashtrays are:

    Fire & Heat Resistant – Made from heat retardant material and metal inner lining

    Completely Airtight – Clip lock mechanism with additional rubber seal

    Increasingly Trendy – Smokers will use it

    Durability – Dishwasher safe (warm) with long lasting lifespan

    Odour Free – Extinguishes the cigarette quickly and seals in the odour

    Availability – Minimum orders of 320 units shipped worldwide

    Size and Shape – The image (as above) is a perfect guide to the size of the unit

    Advertising Potential – Advertise a company, campaign or institution

    Notable information: Cigarette Butts also present very dangerous and sometimes fatal threats to wildlife. They have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, domestic animals and marine creatures which innocently mistake them for food. Composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, cigarette butts can persist in the environment as long as 11 years (British American Tobacco). Other research suggests as long as 15 years, similar to other forms of plastic.

  4. Zack Porter says:

    Funny how tobacco companies are so keen on being involved with groups that purport to be interested in tobacco litter.

    But of course they always talk about encouraging smokers to ‘be responsible’ and encourage councils etc to put ashtrays everywhere even though the vast majority of people don’t smoke.

    Keep your eyes open because MOST of the websites and organisations I have seen on tobacco litter issues have tobacco companies behind them.

    So of course there are no calls for smokefree beaches and smokefree parks etc – that would make smoking look socially unacceptable.

    There are no proposals to reduce packaging – that would undermine the most important marketing avenue available to them.

    And of course there are no calls for people to quit for the environment (even though litter is only the tip of the iceberg when you investigate the environmental effects of tobacco) – that would encourage people to quit (fewer customers to make money off).

  5. If your are interested in new litter bin solutions we invite you to take a look at Smartstreets-Smartbins at and

    For other unique approaches to gum and cigarette litter – please contact us for the latest Smarstreets product information on +44 (0)20 8742 3223

    We have information on the site which reinforces what’s said on this blog.. cigarette litter is an environmental problem that is slowly poisoning our planet.

    We are determined to help reduce that problem.

  6. Hanan says:

    Hi, It’s me again…
    The article missed some crucial points regarding FACTS on cigarette butts littering. I think it is important to point a few of those:
    1. It’s is the most littered item in the world in absolute numbers(above 50% on land and above 35% in sea). This fact is based on local and worldwide litter surveys.
    2. It’s the most littered item (80%) relatively (the percentage of items littered in respect to the whole amount of the same item). People just don’t treat it as litter. This fact is based on an Australian and Irish surveys.
    3. There are about 5,500,000,000,000 (5.5 Trillion) cigarette butts manufactured every year. If you put them one by one they will make a line that can connect the Earth to the Sun (8 minutes of the speed of light).
    4. The American fire report claims that most (over 50%) of fires in nature are due to lit cigarette butts.
    5. About 1500 cases of babies swallowing cigarette butts are reported in the US a year.
    6. England claims that the cost of cigarette butt littering stand on 200,000,000 pounds a year (This include picking them up and cleaning the sewage).

    That’s it for now but there are plenty of other amazing fact such as that most microorganism die in 8 litter of water due to want littered cigarette butt. There is enough poison in 200 cigarette butts to kill one grownup. Think about the Sea of Galilei (Kineret). This is what we drink….

  7. Mike Davis says:

    I am currently in a contest hosted by Timberland with there EarthKeepers site, to be a Change Agent, to help finance a great enviromental cause…anyone that is environmentally conscious, please check out my site:

    then register and “back” my “cause”. If i get enough attention i might be able to make this life long dream of mine, come true. I was born on Earth Day of ’78 and from about 13 years i have tried to gain interest in someone else to help for this non profit.

    My organization hopes to educate on the environmental impact of cigarette litter. But what makes this idea unique, is that i want to collect cigarettes to make cigarette collection facilities out of them. which in turn print educational material on them….in a way a self-sustaining perpetual infrastructure.

    Anyone that smokes or just hates cigarette litter or environmental hearted please join me and help make Responsible Smokers Act a reality

    I am asking for obvious partners of sponsors, lawyers, accountants,web designers, graphic artist, photographers, environmental and civil servants, please if you think you can offer anything that would solve the problem of cancerous materials being littered by the trillions into everyday surroundings.
    I will give anyone a chance to do there part for the Earth

    If you have seen the movie Erin Brocovich. the environmental moral of that story is… Sometimes small doses, administered over a long time, makes our bodies absorb the same chemicals as if you where to smoke the original cigarette itself.

    * Cigarette pollution cost millions to our public utilities in each state.

    * Animals can very easily dies from the ingestion of small amounts of Butts.

    * Cigarettes are made from cellulose Acetate, which is a host for the Bioaccumulotoxins, which delivers those thousand of cancerous chemicals to everywhere humans exists, our environment!

    This seems to be the decade of GREEN living, i hope this gives me my chance to form a group to make a great impact on the world!!

    please re-post this to any Green person or smoker

    Responsible Smokers Act

    Thanks everyone!
    Mike Davis

  8. Jared says:

    Kol hakavod – both to Hanan for founding the organization, and to Karen for spreading the news! It’s about time smokers and non-smokers alike realize how even the smallest piece of litter can be so potent to our fragile earth. I’ve made a habit of keeping an eye out for people who throw their butts to the ground. I swiftly pick up the butt, approach the offender and, loud enough for passersby to hear, confront them ever so innocently with a simple, clear: “Excuse me, you dropped this.” Works nearly every time!

  9. Hanan says:

    If you are an English speaker and you want to learn more about the cigarette litter problem, visit the federal American web site at:

  10. Hanan says:

    The solution for the cigarette butt problem is simple: 1. more awareness, 2. more ashtray, 3. more tickets to offenders.

    Our organization, “Eretz Lelo Bdal” seeks for energetic volunteers who want to be part of a change in how Israel looks like.
    We have positions for people in many fields starting from education, web design, publicity, media, art and much more.

    If you want to be a part of a revolution in how how streets, beaches and quality of life look like, please don’t hesitate to contact us through the website or through the mail at AT

    We are going to meet the minister of environment soon and we are planning on breaking the Guinness world record by creating the largest cigarette butt collection ever made. Moreover we are planning our next year activities.

  11. james says:

    If a smoking ban in public places (& bars & restaurants etc) can be passed and enforced in Ireland, as I witnessed 5 years ago, (& now the UK), then it can happen anywhere! Even here….

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