For a cleaner, greener Hampton Roads
Select Page


Myth-Busting Cigarette Litter with Keep Norfolk Beautiful

COMMUNITY CENTERClean Water & WaterwaysGreen EducationJul 9, 2015Guest Contributor

Author: Guest Contributor

Keep Norfolk Beautiful is pleased to be a part of this regional effort to educate the public on smoking product litter. We have known for a long time that cigarette butts are the number one littered item and the most costly to remove due to their small size. The hope of this educational campaign is to dispel the most egregious myths about this particular type of litter.

Myth 1- Filters are biodegradable. This means to break down by a living organism. Filters are plastic so they simply degrade and the plastic breaks into even smaller pieces. In water, these small pieces are mistaken for food by small creatures which in turn get eaten by bigger creatures including you and me!

Myth 2 – “My one cigarette butt is no big deal” – In Virginia 20% of the population smokes. At just one small site in downtown Norfolk volunteers counted 631 butts and cigar tips. Multiply that by all the stop lights and areas outside restaurants all over Hampton Roads and you get more than one.

Norfolk PreScan

During Keep Norfolk Beautiful day in April, these awesome volunteers did a scan of the targeted campaign area at Civic Plaza.

The good news is that smokers respond well to added receptacles- a key strategy for reducing this type of litter. Most don’t know that butts harm waterways and after learning the facts carry pocket or car ashtray.

During the summer Norfolk’s campaign will focus on Civic Plaza which includes City Hall, a Light Rail stop and the new court building. Fact sheets, new receptacles and both pocket and car ashtrays will be distributed free of charge. Picking this location will reach a diverse group of citizens and City leaders who can spread the word about keeping Norfolk beautiful. To learn more visit

This blog contributed by Lisa Renee Jennings, Public Service Coordinator for Keep Norfolk Beautiful.