Clean up Stockholm: Cigarette Butts Trash Sweden

It’s summertime and it means walking around the city, eating ice cream, and hanging out in the park.

Recently though, I get annoyed when in a park or any grassy area where a Swede can lie down and be a solar panel. There’s garbage everywhere. Specifically, snus and cigarette butts.

Cigarette crap is disgusting.

cigarette litterWhy is there no where to sit?  Why do people have to throw their butts everywhere?  Gross.  And why, in a city that is the “Green Capital of Europe” no one has bothered to clean up the parks?

Bottle caps, cigarette butts, snus pouches litter the parks all over the city.  What’s wrong with people?  The park grass is not a garbage bin.   I am tired of seeing Swedes’ sucked on, drool disposed crap on the ground.   With so many Swedes being concerned and downright fascist about the environment, few care about the implications of tobacco litter.  Tobacco litter is dangerous for animals, the ground, and the water supply.  Think about the 375 million pounds (500,000,000 liters) of worldwide tobacco litter produced in ONE year.

In 2003, 6,700 tonnes of snus were sold in Sweden. Another seven billion cigarette sticks were sold in Sweden. Seven billion cigarette pieces is 350 million packs of cigarettes sold per year. Or put it this way, 3.5 million liters is pure cigarette butts.
litter butt

And where are the campaigns to reduce cigarette/snus waste and clean up in Sweden?   None that I visibly see.  There’s no Parks and Recreation Department here that deals with cigarette and snus garbage on a national scale.   What about Keep Sweden Beautiful programs?  Or “NO LITTER” signs on the highways and in parks.  California has a $1000 litter fine if you’re unlucky and get caught.  A hit to the pocketbook will scare anyone.

Surely, in a country that prides itself on eco-friendly products, recycling, and public transportation, they can get off their high horses and clean up the parks and cities in Sweden.  I especially love people who call themselves “socialists, marxists, or liberals” and then proceed to put out their lit cigarette on the grass and leave it there.

Facts about Cigarette butts:

  • Cigarette butts can take 5 to 12 years to fully biodegrade due to the cellulose acetate
  • Plastic pieces are found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, and other marine creatures that mistake them as food.
  • Wind and rain carry cigarette butts into waterways, where the toxic chemicals in the cigarette filters leak out and threaten the water supply and creatures living in it.
  • Cigarettes contain over 165 chemicals – Some of the chemicals smokers inhale and reside on cigarette butts:
  • Benzo[a]pyrene: found in coal tar and cigarette smoke and it is one of the most potent cancer causing chemical in the world.
  • Arsenic: deadly poison that causes diarrhea, cramps, anemia, paralysis and malignant skin tumors. It is used in pesticides.
  • Acetone: It’s one of the active ingredients in nail polish remover.
  • Lead: Lead poisoning stunts growth, causes vomiting, and causes brain damage.
  • Formaldehyde: causes cancer, can damage lungs, skin, and digestive systems. Embalmers use it to preserve dead bodies.
  • Toluene: highly toxic, commonly use as an ingredient in paint thinner.
  • Butane: highly flammable butane is one of the key components in gasoline.
  • Cadmium: cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain, and stays in the body for years.


Stockholm can do better. If you smoke or snus, save the environment and throw away the butts in a proper trash bin. Or get one of those smokeless cigarettes. Just don’t dump them on the ground either.

30 thoughts on “Clean up Stockholm: Cigarette Butts Trash Sweden”

  1. It’s so disgusting. They really should ban smoking/snus in parks or toss a huge fine up, like they did in Vancouver.

    It’s a sad reminder that I always need to bring a blanket or beach towel with me as not to sit in that biohazard trash. Really, it is a biohazard with what is in it!

  2. This is a great post! I’m so glad you brought it up, though I haven’t been to Sweden, one of my skype pals uses snus and I personally think it is disgusting. I’m so glad people don’t use it here in Vancouver and most people who smoke are looked upon badly, so they tend to cower in corners to do it.

  3. @Juni – You’re right, back home, you’re shunned and looked down upon if you smoke. But then Vancouverites are really health conscious.

  4. I’m a smoker,and frankly don’t care who looks down on me or avoids me for it!
    However,i am in a new country,which i happen to find very clean compared to the UK,so i conciously try to dispose of my butts in the proper recepticles,of which i find there’s a lot of here.

    What really pisses me off though is the beaches.Due to metal detecting i dig up so much crap on beaches you wouldn’t believe.Steak knives,fish knives,butter knives,forks,axe heads(modern used for chopping wood for beach fires i guess.)nails,sewing needles,hypodermic needles,fish hooks,hundreds of buried beer and soft drink cans tent pegs…and that’s just the metal!
    There’s also an abundance of butts and snus,along with a million other things that people just stuff under the sand.
    What annoys me about it all is that here the beaches have a rubbish bin placed every 100metres!!!

    So please..don’t just blame us smokers for the litter problems of the world.Thanks :)

  5. @Dano I’ve never had issues with metal objects on the beaches with those items, in many countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Canada, USA, Belgium, Sweden) and I’m a beach nut. Maybe you’re using the wrong beaches?

  6. @Andrew
    well here in Vancouver you know they rake the beaches with that big machine. I wonder if maybe they don’t do that in Sweden? Otherwise, you just know our beaches would be littered with needles-unfortunately.

  7. @Juni – I’ve been to the beaches before/during/after the celebration of lights, I know how bad and good it can get. Those machines can clean sand to a depth of 30 cm. Plus, mad props to those cleaning crews who can turn the beaches over like that by 6am!

  8. @Andrew – Well mate i have permits to detect a lot of the beaches here in Skåne and most are VERY popular.Tylösand in Halmstad i’m told is the main beach destination for a lot of stockholmer’s in summer.Torekov plays host to crown princess victoria and madeleine etc most summers,and is one of the most rubbish strewn beaches i’ve ever detected! Very odd for an “elitist town”,which is how they all act who live there.
    Båstad beach is always packed during the swedish open tennis tournament in July,and my other beaches are also similarly packed when the weather’s good.

    So in conclusion: No..i don’t think i’m doing the wrong beaches! lol.
    Granted,as a metal detectorist i tend to find and dig up those things a lot more than the average beach goer would,but all i’m saying is that it’s all under there.
    Send me your address mate.I’ll be more than willing to box all the rubbish i find and mail it to you as proof! :P

  9. Let me just reprieve myself from all my other postings and simply say littering sucks! How lazy and disrespectful do people have to be?

  10. @Princess- snus are little wads (packets)of powdered tobacco,placed under or behind the lip and sucked to death!
    I think we banned them in the UK due to mouth cancer scares etc.
    They seem to be a Swedish pastime.

  11. @Dano – Thanks for being considerate and smart enough to use the garbage cans. At the office, some coworkers would throw their butts on the ground. Evidently, the cigarette disposal one meter away was just too far.

    Can you send us some photos of the litter you find on the beach? We need another post discussing the lack of common sense. And the need to keep the beaches and parks free from debris. People need to clean up after themselves, rich royal snobs included.

    Sweden needs both a flat out fine and No Littering signage along with a stronger Keep Sweden Tidy program (which right now only runs from April-June).

  12. To be honest I think Sweden is the cleanest country I’ve ever been in. I agree, I don’t like the cigarette butts that are being tossed on the ground everywhere, it’s kinda gross, but it’s nowhere near what you see when you are abroad. Then you need a shovel just to move in the sea of garbage. And who on earth is running around with a metal detector at the beach? I don’t care what lies beneath the sand as long as it doesn’t poke me in the ass or is like radioactive. And of course you will find metal objects in the ground, I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if you found a person every now and then. The streets are being sweeped (atleast here in Stockholm) every night and I see cleaners running around frequently picking up trash from the ground. I got no idea how it is in the rest of the country but since Stockholm is surrounded by water it got hundreds of beaches, hard to keep them all clean :)

  13. Out of sight,out of mind eh Erik? That works..until a snap storm removes 20cm’s of sand from the beach and the next nice day you or some 3 year old stands on a rusty fishing/steak knife,old fish hook or half a rusty jagged beer can!

    I’ll see what i can do about pic’s Sapphire.The trouble is,what i collect and remove in a session is all metal.I don’t pick up ciggy butts and snus pouches,contact lens packets,plastic bags or countless other non metallic crap though!
    Most of it stays buried under the sand and is pretty harmless,just saying people do stuff a lot under the sand rather than take it to a bin.As with Erik,just because it’s not visible,doesn’t mean it’s not disgusting and not there!

  14. I hold my hands up now and confess I’m a dirty smoker and I do drop my butts on the pavement if there is not a nearby ashtray bin thing (please don’t hurt me!) What I don’t get about myself is why I do that, but would never ever throw an empty packet/can on the ground but keep hold of it until I come to a bin. I’ll definitely think about this when I move to Stockholm in just over a week, and try not to litter the city as much as it already is :s

  15. Hurrah!A cute smoker!…can we have sex when you get here? :)
    Ya guessed i’m not a shy reserved Swede eh?..blah!

    Anyhow,we drop our butts because when they’re out..they stink! (They stink when lit to non smokers too..but we don’t care about them right? lol)
    Putting them in our pockets/purse etc just doesn’t work because even we can smell how disgusting we are then! So it’s easier on the conscience to just drop them and walk away.That’s why ya do it!

    If we can’t have sex..could you tell me how to get my pic as an avatar on here? I know everyone’s gonna laugh at me because it’s so easy,but i seem to be having brain freeze!! :)

  16. It sounds to me like there is a need for a small tin, that people can put their used cigs in. It makes sense that you wouldn’t put it in any old trash, it could still light a fire and that they smell, well that rules out the pocket. I think a metal sized pill box would work, but would people use it?

  17. @Dano: yeah, I hate the stinky fingertip thing you get only from holding a stubbed out butt! What is with that?! In the UK they have these small tins you can carry round to put your butts in if there’re no bins around…don’t think it was so successful tbh!

    As for the avatar thingy, I don’t know, I just put my wordpress site in the website bit and it comes up whenever I comment on pages. Could try that if you have one?

  18. Nup that didn’t work lol.Ah well i’m probably cuter with a blue body and green legs anyhow!

    I think the small tin idea is a good one.Could make them to wear in a pouch on your belt like a camera etc.
    Thing is it’d have to be made Law that we can’t smoke outside without one,which is all well and good,but enforcing it would be a nightmare.People who couldn’t be bothered,forgot them,or just basic wankers (chavs etc)would still smoke and drop them.
    To be fair,when people stop dropping ring pulls and bottle caps on beaches and everywhere..i’ll stop dropping butts!

    (You avoided the sex part..i don’t really have a blue body and green legs.Although at times this past winter i think i did!lmao)

  19. I think this pouch idea needs to go to the Dragon’s Den – do they do a Swedish version???

  20. @Princess – No! But when i start marketing them the Swedish version will be the first off the production line! :)

  21. About the wordpress avatar thingy, you can register your email address with Gravatar. Then any site using the Gravatar plugin, yours truly for example, will show your cute avatar.

    I was in Germany the past weekend, and people still smoke IN the bars. They smoke everywhere. And cigarette butts are everywhere! That’s really gross. My clothes are still stinky. :/

  22. We need some serious fines for the people littering the city with all those cigarette butts. Or, why not totally ban smoking in public places?

  23. Why not just ban non smokers from public places instead? We have as much right to smoke where and when we want just as cyclists have the right to pedal where and when and also run me over..ban cyclists in public places!
    While you’re at it,ban people who wear excessive perfume,aftershave and deoderants!
    Been through the “heavy fines” can’t be policed properly and only a few would get caught and fined.Useless..kinda like drink driving.Fines,lost licences and even jail,it doesn’t stop people doing it!

  24. Not to be a hater towards anyone, I’m a smoker, but I never would excuse anyone who couldn’t be bothered to throw their butts in the trash…how inconsiderate! >:[ I think my mother would take my head off for making life miserable for anyone, but especially for disrupting the natural beauty of a place…I can feel her hand at the back of my head, just thinking about it…YIKES!
    A brainduster from your mother for tossing anything on the ground would stop everyone from littering! :P

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