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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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Get Your Butts off the Beach. Please!
Cigarette butts in the sand

In 2008, cigarette butts were the most common debris item collected at New Hampshire beach cleanups, according to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. A startling 85,875 cigarette butts were collected from coastal waterways in 2008.

While paper and tobacco are biodegradable, cigarette filters are not. Nearly all cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, and they can take many years to degrade. When it rains, the water from the rain washes any debris, including cigarette butts, into nearby waterways or to storm drains that flow right to our lakes, rivers and oceans.

Whether or not you smoke, there are steps you can take:

  • If you smoke, please don’t litter. Carry around a piece of foil or an empty aluminum container to put your cigarette butts in when you are away from an ashtray.
  • Don’t flush cigarette butts down the toilet. They do not biodegrade and may clog your septic system or sewer lines. (Failed septic systems and sewer lines are a leading cause of beach and water contamination.)
  • When on Hampton Beach, use the cigarette butt disposal stations.
  • Participate in or organize a local litter cleanup and make sure that picking up cigarette butts is part of that effort. Raising awareness of the issue helps. For more information on organized cleanups, contact the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation at (603) 431-0260.
  • If you own or work at a public business, consider placing a cigarette butt receptacle in front of your entrance. While making it more convenient for smokers to do the right thing, this will also decrease your daily cleanup efforts.
  • If you know smokers, try to educate them on the amount of cigarette butts that are around and how long it takes butts to biodegrade.
  • Asking local officials to take a more active role in the issue.

Other Litter Removal Outreach Campaigns

More resources:




NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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