Cigarette butts pollute water

Cigarette butt litter isn’t just an eyesore — it’s toxic waste. Chemicals in the filter slowly leach out of the butt and into the surrounding environment. Leaching happens much faster when the butt is soaked in water - within one hour of contact with water, butts leach toxic chemicals such as cadium, lead, and arsenic.

Cigarette butts and beach

And there are a lot of cigarette butts on our beaches, as the partners in "BUTT-FREE Beach" know well! In Lake Huron, 45% of all litter items removed from shoreline cleanups were cigarette butts according to one study. By reducing and cleaning up this toxic litter (the most prevalent and toxic litter on Ontario beaches), we can help reduce the amount of toxins and chemicals leached into our beaches, lakes, and aquatic life.

For popular Wasaga Beach, which receives approximately 2 million visitors annually, the Butt-free Beach campaign to eliminate cigarette butt litter will benefit the Town of Wasaga Beach and all its residents. The long-term goal with this program in Wasaga Beach is to keep approximately 825,000 toxins2 from leaching into our beaches and Georgian Bay.

BUTT..what can I can do?

Cigarette Butt Wasaga Beach

You can make a difference by disposing of your butts properly.

In participating beaches, like Wasaga Beach 5, find these disposable ashtrays and deposit the contents of the ashtrays in these receptacles so the butts can be recycled – and more importantly stay off the beach! If you can't find these tools, the important thing to remember is not to leave your BUTTS on the beach. Or anywhere on the ground. Your beaches from Wasaga Beach to the world, need to be cigarette BUTT-FREE!

Here are some ways you can help beaches:

Thank you to these references and sources
  • Alexander, Karen. 2015 Butt Free Beach (Program backgrounder). Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
  • 2 Bejtic, Narcis. Environmental Network’s Application for the Great Lakes Guardian Fund 2017. Environment Network
  • Booth, David J. and Gribben, Paul and Parkinson, Kerryn. Impact of cigarette butt leachate on tidepool snails . Marine Pollution Bulletin 95 (2015) 362–364. Volume 95, Issue 1, 15 June 2015, Pages 362–364. Retrieved from ScienceDirect at
  • Environmental Defence Butt Free sign. “Keep your butts off the beach.”
  • Lee, Wenjau and Lee, Chin Chun. Developmental toxicity of cigarette butts – An underdeveloped issue. Ecotoxicology andEnvironmentalSafety113(2015)362–368. Volume 113, March 2015, Pages 362-368. Retrieved from ScienceDirect at
  • Novotny, Thomas E. and Lum, Kristen and Smith, Elizabeth and Wang, Vivian and Barnes, Richard. Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ISSN 1660-4601. Retrieved from
  • Slaughter, Elli and Gersberg, Richard M and Watanabe, Kayo and Rudolph, John and Stransky, Chris and Novotny, Thoma E. Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwaterfish. Source: Tobacco Control, Vol. 20, Supplement 1: The Environmental Burden of CigaretteButts (May 2011), pp. i25-i29. Published by: BMJ. Retrieved from
  • The Tourism Company in association with IBI Group. Wasaga Beach Tourism Strategy. November 2017.
  • 2017 partners

    Brian Nabuurs. Making a difference!

    Brian Nabuurs

    Brian has volunteered dozens of hours to reduce litter on Wasaga Beach. Thanks Brian for your inspiring volunteerism to help our communities and the environment! Join Brian in helping to make beaches BUTT-FREE!

    "This has been a very positive experience from the very beginning. My inspiration originally came from Karen Alexander at LHCC (Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation). I thought it truly needed to be in Wasaga. I felt that if we wanted more people to take part in the initiative, it needed to be on a grander stage. Wasaga Beach is the perfect spring board to bring national attention to the issue and develop a template for this initiative for each community to duplicate."