City launches campaign encouraging smokers to reduce cigarette litter

This is Not an Ashtray features images of iconic Calgary landmarks with cigarette butts in an effort to create a #buttfreeyyc

The City of Calgary wants Calgarians who smoke to take personal responsibility for reducing cigarette litter. The This is Not an Ashtray campaign, featuring images of famous Calgary places replaced by cigarette butts, kicks off on August 27 and runs through September 10. The campaign hopes to get Calgarians attention using social media, walking billboards and ad trucks combing downtown and other entertainment areas. Community peace officers will also be on the ground educating smokers on littering bylaws and handing out reusable pocket ashtrays. Peace officers will enforce the bylaws when necessary.

In addition to provocative signage outside in areas where smokers gather, reusable pocket ashtrays will be handed out at local bars who are members of Best Bar None, a voluntary accreditation program for licensed establishments. The pocket ashtrays which have the message “No ifs, ands or butts – don’t risk the environment or fines up to $750.” are intended to show smokers that there is an alternative to littering. Citizens are encouraged to help spread the word and show their support with the hashtag #buttfreeyyc.

Contrary to popular belief, those white sponge-like butts aren't made from cotton or paper—they're made from a synthetic microfiber that takes years to break down and never decomposes. Experts say those butts are one of the most littered items in the world.

Barb Doyscher, business strategist with The City says cigarette litter has significant environmental impacts and it damages Calgary’s reputation as a desirable and clean city to live in and visit.

“Cigarette litter is not only an eye sore and fire hazard, it has huge environmental impacts that most citizens and smokers are not aware of,” says Doyscher. “This campaign focuses on smokers taking personal responsibility for ensuring their butts do not end up being washed down our sewers and storm drains to eventually poison fish in rivers, lakes and oceans. We estimate that Calgary smokers dispose of hundreds of thousands of butts every year throughout our city creating widespread impacts.”

Doyscher says The City does not expect to solve the problem with one campaign, but the effort to change people’s habits has to start somewhere.

“You wouldn’t walk down the street and throw your coffee cup into the gutter, so why would you do it with your cigarette waste? We want all smokers to properly dispose of their butts. Reusable pocket ashtrays are a great option for holding onto the butts until they can be put in a trash can and they contain the odor as well.”

Littering, including cigarette butts is prohibited under both the Streets Bylaw and the Parks and Pathways Bylaw. Fines for littering range from $250 to $500, and up to $750 for throwing a cigarette out of a car window. For more information on bylaws related to littering, visit