Take Pride Winnipeg has launched a new awareness campaign to reduce the number of cigarette butts on city streets.

Tom Ethans of Take Pride Winnipeg said cigarette butts make up a large portion of litter on city streets – and that needs to change.

“Cigarette butts do not biodegrade. They end up in our rivers, our lakes – they end up in our fish. Our birds have eaten them and have taken them for nesting and have died from the toxins,” said Ethans.

Ethans said studies show 28 per cent of all litter comes from discarded cigarettes. Take Pride Winnipeg hopes the addition of new ashtrays in downtown Winnipeg and Osborne Village will help reduce that number.

Smoker Hans Osted said he is part of that problem. “I toss it often – most of the time on the ground,” said Osted.

A study done in the United States found that if a person smokes one-and-a-half packs a day, they would produce 10,000 butts a year – or about five litres of butts.

Osted said smokers such as himself get away with littering cigarettes because it's not frowned upon. He believes the campaign could help change smokers’ habits.

“It’s not acceptable to throw a candy wrapper on the ground. Somebody would see you and think less of you, but with cigarette butts so many people do it,” said Osted. “It’s generally accepted.”

Smoker Tony Ustel said it comes down to the availability of ash trays. “If there is a place where I can dispose of my butt, I will, but if there is no other choice…”

Ethans said the responsibility to keep butts off the street lays with smokers.

“It doesn’t take much to make the city cleaner if people were just being more responsible,” Ethans said.

Littering in the City of Winnipeg can land citizens a $350 fine, and if convicted, court costs could be added to that figure.