cigarette butt


I don´t want to offend smokers, however, why still today most of the smokers, at least in Spain, throw their cigarette butt to the street? What can we do to raise awareness of this bad habit? I know for sure, they don´t do that at their homes. I have even seen people open the window of their car and throw away all their cigarette butts on the street.

Smoking Cessation
Environmental Management Systems
María F Lara
53 months ago

7 answers


HI Maria F Lara,

I remember to tell my smoking mother, when I was a teenager back in the 1980's that she should never leave the budds, as this was bad for the environment and the material would stay forever. Today she still smokes, but always carries somithing to collect her budds.
Why I tell this story? For Spain I think there is a very fundamental change in culture in the whole context of littering needed and that probably needs to start with campaigns for school kids as they will challenge their parents.
I remember coming from Germany also a type of cultural shock during my student exchange, when in bars just everything that was no longer needed was dropped to the floor and you would walk over floor full of peanut shells, used plastic packaging and butts. And everybody told me that this was normal and still I personally did never want to drop something and tried to find a bin, which was not always easy or possible and all my spanish friends made fun of this habbit.

When I walk today through Hamburg or Berlin, there are many budds lying around, and often I find packing waste put into my bycicles basket, when it is parkted outside, and the next bin is less than 30 or 40 m away. So a culture of taking responsibility not only for the cleanliness of your house, but also the streets and treating your own waste always responsible, whereever you go, needs to be (re-)discovered globally.

The only country I know, where littering is not a proplem occacionally in the streets is Singapore and they fine you with several 100 USD when caught littering in the street by the police.

Maybe it is extreme, but a radical change needed sometimes needs radical steps, if voluntarily change is not happening.
I would not mind such radical steps for littering, as it's really not a problem to take care of your own waste where-ever you go, anyone can just do it.

All the best,

Martina Prox
53 months ago
In Spain there is a fine for dogs poops in the street and even thought I see fewer poops in the street I still see somes!. butts are smaller and requiere less time to through them... the chances of getting people doing it are very little.... - María F 53 months ago

Maybe someone who doesn't care about polluting their body doesn't care about polluting the environment? Not necessarily the case for all, but could be a mindset. My father smoked for 50 years and I grew up around second hand smoke--I hated it. Now I work to help smokers quit and take on healthy habits. They must be motivated, but if so it is definitely doable. When I walk our dog, I pick up trash I see on the sidewalk. Don't understand how some people can think it's OK to throw trash anywhere. It's a careless selfish attitude in many ways.

Roy Vartabedian, DrPH, MPH
53 months ago
I consider the street as much home as my own home and people shlould thing in the street that way as if it were their home, that way a guess they will not do it! - María F 53 months ago

This is a problem of mindset. People who don't understand the concept of social responsibility and pollution usually do that, Yes, there can be rules or punishment but they hardly work. Sad.

Maya Kharkwal MA, BEd
53 months ago

Some people are not responsible. This is an age old problem.

Charu Gulati
53 months ago
Agree. However, do you think law can do things better here ? - Maya 53 months ago

It is indeed unfortunate that even the educated indulge in such an inappropriate way. I feel it is the 'Attitudinal Problem'. I remember my visit to Germany in the 90s and I proudly shared my views on cleanliness of Hamburg, Frankfurt. One of the ways to overcome this problem is to provide dustbins at convenient places and FINE heavily those who violate. Humans are the same everywhere - when it touches their pocket they do try to correct themselves. I am sure they don't behave the same way at home as their family members would protest.

Dr. A.K. Shyam
53 months ago

In addition to fining, let us consider added 0.25 Euro cents as a deposit on each cigarette. Once returned, the collector can earn money for their next pack of cigarettes, or their medication.

Glenn Frommer
53 months ago
That is a good idea! people will be more carefull if they get something in return more than for being punished - María F 53 months ago

Let's add in disposable coffee cups from the major chains. Most unrecyclable.

David Cottrell
53 months ago

Have some input?