Toronto cracks down on cigarette butt disposal

Posters around the city raise awareness to smokers


Flicking your smoking habits to the curb may be good for your health, but your cigarette butts don’t belong on the ground.

The City of Toronto has launched a campaign to promote the proper disposal of cigarette butts.

“One of the things that we’re focusing on with this campaign is the awareness of the harm in just flicking them on the road or the sidewalks. We’re asking everybody to ensure that that they’re not doing this,” said Lisa Duncan, acting director of collections and litter operations with the City of Toronto.

To spread awareness, 400 posters have been posted in subways, subway stations, and restaurants across the city.

“Cigarette butts make up most of the city’s litter,” one of the posters read.

Cigarette butts should be disposed of in garbage and recycling containers which include receptacles meant for that purpose.

When asked about why there are no city receptacles to dispose of cigarettes around the St. James campus of George Brown College (GBC), Duncan said they can look into this matter.

“Wherever we survey, we can put them,” she said.

There are zero cigarette butt disposal containers surrounding the main building of GBC’s St. James campus. However there are several planters that contain many butts, which can be found on Frederick St. just north of King St. W.

According to a property standards city by-law, “all yards and any other part of a property shall be kept clean and free from accumulations of junk, rubbish, brush, refuse, litter, garbage and other debris, and any conditions that are health, fire or other hazards.”

Cigarette butts can take up to 10 years to decompose, depending on the conditions of the environment.

“It is really harmful to the environment. Imagine those cigarette butts having to break down and degrade or they get in the waterways. It’s very hard to clean up,” said Duncan.

The city’s litter vacuums struggle to reach the ones that fall in between planter grates and other hard to reach places.

Even though there are workers with bags and brooms who collect the litter manually, cigarettes left still burning can cause problems.

“It’s risky. If they’re not extinguished the equipment can catch fire,” said Duncan.

As of March 28, city divisions in Toronto are participating in a summer clean up which will last until the end of April.

Toronto’s 16th annual spring cleanup will take place from April 26 to 28. Participants can pick up free waste bags at City Hall, six civic centres and 250 community centres, as well as listed Pizza Pizza locations across the city.

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Toronto cracks down on cigarette butt disposal