'Keep Your Butts to Yourself' Campaign Launched

September 17, 2007  

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton was joined Friday by City Council Member Art Graham; the city's Clean it Up, Green it Up Division; the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Commission and other community leaders for a news conference to announce the launch of a campaign to help reduce cigarette butt litter.

'Keep Your Butts to Yourself!' will encourage Jacksonville smokers to properly dispose of their cigarette butts through public service announcements, print ads and billboard messages. In addition, 'pocket ashtrays' (small, portable ashtrays that fit into a pocket, briefcase or purse) will be distributed to smokers through partnerships with community organizations.

'We are fortunate to live in an area with tremendous natural resources—the St. Johns River, beaches and the largest urban park system to name just a few,' said Mayor Peyton. 'Properly disposing of litter is one of the easiest things we can all do to keep our community clean and beautiful. Small pieces of debris can add up quickly. The campaign is designed to help remind those who choose to smoke do their part to protect our natural resources.'

'Most people believe throwing butts is harmless,' said Councilman Graham. 'I know people who will chase down a napkin on a windy day, but wouldn't think twice before they flick cigarette butts out the car window. We need to make people aware just how big a problem this is.'

Improperly disposed cigarette butts make up a significant amount of Jacksonville's litter, particularly at intersections and on the beach.

In fact, during Jacksonville's participation in the 2006 Annual Florida Coastal Cleanup (part of the International Coastal Cleanup) nearly 1,000 cigarettes/cigarette filters and cigar tips were collected at a dozen cleanup sites at beaches and parks.

Moreover, discarded cigarette butts are one the biggest trash problems around the world. At the 2006 International Coastal Cleanup, sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy, nearly 2 million of the 7.7 million pieces of debris collected in 68 countries by volunteers during the one-day event were cigarettes or cigarette butts*.

Cigarette filters or butts are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic. Research shows that depending on climatic factors, cigarette butts can take decades to disintegrate. Improperly discarded cigarette filters often accumulate in the environment for long periods of time. Not only are they unsightly, but acutely toxic and life threatening to wildlife.

The campaign will run through the end of the year. The city will also incorporate the message into its community outreach and public education programs.