Smoking Related Litter

The Government's vision of safe communities and clean spaces was outlined in Living Places: Cleaner, Safer, Greener. This indicated that public opinion was strong for keeping their public spaces and local community safe, clean and green.


Smoking-related litter is one of the most prevalent types of litter as measured by the annual Local Environmental Quality Survey of England. The results from the last three years show that smoker's materials were present on 79 per cent of survey sites. These items are often time-consuming and expensive to clean-up because of their small size, as well as being unsightly where they are allowed to accumulate.

New legislation coming into force on 1 July 2007 in England (The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006) means that there will be a smoking ban in extensively enclosed public places. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have this smoking ban already enforced. Smoking bans means that smokers will have to go outside or to designated areas to smoke. Once a cigarette has been smoked, it will need to be disposed of. If there is not a safe, convenient way in which to dispose of a cigarette, it is likely to be dropped on the ground and crushed underfoot. Smoking-related litter covers items like cigarette ends, matchsticks and discarded cigarette packets. Cigarette ends, matches and boxes are found on over 90 per cent of city centre streets in the UK (ENCMAS, Smoking Related Litter).

Key legislation includes the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (CNEA) provides local authorities, parish and community councils and the Environment Agency with more effective powers and tools to tackle poor environmental quality and anti-social behaviour.

It is an offence if any person throws down, drops or otherwise deposits litter in such a way as to cause, or contribute to, or lead to, the defacement of any place. If caught by an authorised officer committing a litter offence the offender can discharge is liability by paying a fixed penalty notice.

Due to the proposed smoking ban in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, Defra have issued a consultation paper relating to litter control notices for outside business premises. These proposed changes mean that local authorities will have powers to issue litter control notices if an organisation is not doing anything on a voluntary basis to keep the area around its frontage clear of litter. A Cigarette Litter Action Group (CLAG) was formed in 2006, with Encams and CIWM as key stakeholders in the group.

Did you know? (Keep Scotland Beautiful; City Of Liverpool)

  • In the UK, 120 tonnes of cigarette related litter are discarded on our streets every day
  • Cigarettes account for over 40 per cent of street litter
  • Cigarette filters can take up to 12 years to degrade
  • If you litter with cigarette butts you can face a £75 fixed penalty fine.
  • Approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide each year
  • Cigarette butts leak toxins that contaminate water and harm marine life and the environment
  • Every day UK smokers throw away about 200 million butts
  • Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures, who mistake them for food

There are a number of key pieces of legislation that is relevant to smoking related litter:

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Extension of the definition of litter as well as extending the act of littering to open space and the issuing of fixed penalty notices for litter offences.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Allows local authorities to issue street litter control notices if an area is not kept sufficiently clean around premises.

The Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/90) (Scottish Executive 2005) Implemented on 26 March 2006 the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005, which prohibits smoking in closed or partially enclosed premises in Scotland.

Northern Ireland implemented a smoking ban for smoke-free premises that were enclosed or substantially enclosed. Northern Ireland Order 2006 (SI 2006/NI 20).

Provisions in Wales have been made in concerning the prohibition of smoking in certain premises and vehicles on 2 April 2007 pursuant to powers contained in Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Health Act 2006. The Smoke-free Premises etc.(Wales) Regulations 2007 (draft).

The Health Act 2006 banning smoking from enclosed and substantially enclosed public places and shared workplaces in England, from 1 July 2007. Implementation of this ban will be through The Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/3368) (Defra, 2006).


Action on Smoking Health (2004), Factsheet No:22:

Action on Smoking Health (2006), Factsheet No:08:

Cigarette Litter Action Group

City Of Liverpool, Smoking Related Litter:

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Defra (2006) Litter and Refuse - Guidance on Part 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005,

ENCAMS (Keep Britain Tidy Campaign), Ban Means Problem Could Dog Other Areas:

ENCAMS (Keep Britain Tidy Campaign), Smoking Related Litter,

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Keep Scotland Beautiful, Facts About Littered Cigarette Butts :

Local Environmental Quality Survey

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005

Statutory Instruments (2006): The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006:

The Health Act 2006