Toxic Trash Leaching Chemicals into where we Live, Work, and Play

New Bilingual Public Service Announcements from Legacy and Leave No Trace Shed Light on Toxic Waste Created by Cigarette Litter, Urging Americans to Reconsider and Stop Cigarette Butt Litter in Observance of Earth Day

Washington, D.C- Littered cigarette butts are more than just an eye sore. According to environmental clean-up reports, cigarette butts are the No. 1 littered item on U.S. roadways and the No. 1 item found on beaches and waterways worldwide. A new survey conducted by Legacy, shows that while more than 88 percent of Americans surveyed think that cigarette butts are an environmental concern, more than 44 percent of those polled who had ever smoked admit to having dropped a cigarette on the ground and nearly 32 percent have dropped a cigarette out of a car window.

Toxic tobacco trash includes a plastic filter which biodegrades only under extreme conditions, putting wildlife in danger and wreaking costly havoc on U.S. waterways, parks, beaches and roadways. Additionally, cigarette butts contain carcinogens that can leach into soil, and chemicals that are poisonous to wildlife, threatening to contaminate water sources.

This month in advance of Earth Day, Legacy has partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (Leave No Trace) to raise awareness and mobilize action surrounding this toxic problem with a new set of television and radio Public Service Announcements (PSAs) available in English and Spanish, urging the public to ‘Rethink Butts’ and take a new perspective on this environmental issue.

Over the prior 30 days, Americans surveyed reported seeing this form of toxic litter on sidewalks (80.1 percent), in parks (32.1 percent), on playgrounds (16.6 percent) and on beaches (15.7 percent). While more than 93 percent of those surveyed agree that dropping a cigarette butt on the ground is a form of littering, it is alarming that so many smokers still litter them.

“Social norms surrounding litter have shifted dramatically over the last several decades,” said Dr. Cheryl Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy, a public health non-profit based in Washington, D.C. “But despite the fact that so many Americans are hyper-concerned about the environment and are eager to recycle household items and pick up litter, there remains a total disconnect when it comes to flicking cigarette butts onto our streets and into our waterways. T Through our new partnership with Leave No Trace we hope to not only begin to change the behavior of littering cigarette butts, but also highlight the fact that billions of cigarettes butts annually amount to an enormous environmental and public health threat that our communities are left to pay for.”

“Cigarette butts have a serious impact in the outdoors we create and our children explore,” according to Dana Watts, Executive Director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “Through this important partnership with Legacy, we hope to provide tangible and relevant public education about the issue, fostering healthier people, lands and waterways.”

In an increasingly health and environmentally conscious world, cigarette butts remain one of the only socially acceptable forms of littering left. This new set of bilingual PSAs is available online for download and distribution. Join more than a billion people in 180 countries around the world this Earth Day, and commit to promoting environmental action this year, by stopping toxic litter and starting the discussion about this global problem. Download the PSAs and read more at

Legacy worked with The Butler Bros, an Austin Texas based branding and production company, to develop the ‘Rethink Butts’ PSA. The Butler Bros also partnered with Psyop, a production company that specializes in high-end 2D and 3D animation; live action direction and cutting-edge visual effects, for the creative animation used in the spots.

Consumer OmniPulse Survey Methodology
The Consumer OmniPulse Survey is conducted once a week among a demographically representative sample of 1,200 U.S. adults (age 18+) from the Research Now® Consumer Panel. The sample framework is selected based on U.S. Census data for age, ethnicity, gender, region, and income. We also collect and provide demographic data on educational level and marital status.

Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Legacy’s proven-effective and nationally recognized public education programs include truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about Legacy’s life-saving programs, visit Follow us on Twitter @legacyforhealth and Facebook

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. Through targeted education, research and outreach, the Center ensures the long-term health of our natural world. In its simplest form, Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect the world around you — the world we all enjoy. Learn more at:


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