Keep America Beautiful Unveils 'Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention'

Take a closer look at the sidewalks, roadways and beaches in your community. You’ll probably find thousands of pieces of cellulose acetate litter—better known as cigarette butts. Cellulose acetate—a man-made fiber that looks like cotton thread—takes many years to decompose, and along with other cigarette litter such as packaging and lighting materials, represents more than 20 percent of the litter collected in many community clean-up initiatives.

To address the mounting nationwide problem of cigarette litter, Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest nonprofit community improvement organization, has unveiled the “Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention.” The guide, which provides tools to launch a cigarette litter reduction initiative, has been produced as a CD-ROM by Keep America Beautiful and its Network of Affiliates after three years of field testing in more than a dozen large and small communities across the nation. Cigarette litter prevention research and development of the “Guide” has been made possible by multi-year support from Philip Morris USA.

“The ‘Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention’ provides essential resources in an easy-to-use format for any community that wishes to establish a program,” said G. Raymond Empson, president of Keep America Beautiful. “Using the ‘Guide,’ communities across the country can accomplish the impressive results that our affiliates have produced in our field tests.” The strategies included in the “Guide” helped to reduce cigarette litter an average of 46 percent in field testing over three years.

Karen West, program director of Keep Genesee County Beautiful in Michigan, is one of 28 local affiliates that are using the “Guide” as part of the national roll-out of the Program. “People need to know that cigarette butts are litter, too,” said West, who noted that during a recent cigarette litter scan in her community, surveyors found more than 2,000 cigarette butts in a three-block area.

Keep America Beautiful started developing its Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in 2002 after identifying cigarette litter as the most littered item found in clean-ups around the country. Keep America Beautiful tested a multi-dimensional approach to develop the most effective program that can be easily replicated in communities around the country. To order the “Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention” CD-ROM, go to

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