Smoking and Plastic Pollution

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world and across the UK alone it is estimated 0 tonnes of smoking related litter is dropped every day.
In 2018 cigarette butts were found on 0 % of streets in Wales
smoking and the environment

Many of the cigarette butts dropped in the street fall down drains and eventually find their way into the waterways and the sea.

Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They contain plastic and can stay in the environment for up to 15 years.

Cigarette filters contain harmful chemical ingredients including arsenic, lead and nicotine that pollute our waterways and the toxins in tobacco residue endanger animals that ingest them.

ASH Wales hopes by raising awareness of the environmental impact of discarded cigarette butts it might also encourage people to quit (or not start to begin with), if not for their health then for the planet.


To mark No Smoking Day 2019 ASH Wales commissioned Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn to create a portrait of Sir David Attenborough using cigarette butts collected on Welsh beaches.

The aim of the portrait was to raise awareness of the impact of cigarette litter on the environment and it was unveiled at Barry Island Primary School where pupils were given a talk on litter by Keep Wales Tidy before embarking on a litter pick.

The children filled their bags with plastic litter and cigarette butts on their way down to Barry Island Beach and their activities were captured by ITV Wales news who featured a report about our event on that evening’s news programme.

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world

Download and Share

We’d like organisations and individuals to share our environmental message and have a range of graphics which you can download.

smoking and plastic
cigarette butts in the ocean
cigarette butts and the planet
cigarette most littered item in Wales

Who can help me to quit smoking?

Tailored support

Help Me Quit is a new, free NHS service in Wales. They will help you to pick the best way to quit, whether that’s telephone support, one-to-one or group meetings or the local pharmacy. They can also recommend which nicotine replacements, such as patches or gum, are best for you.


Phone: 0800 085 2219 – Text: HMQ to 80818