Cigarette receptacle

Ash/trash receptacle

A cigarette receptacle is a container or device for extinguishing and disposal of cigarette waste. Other common names for cigarette receptacle include: ash urn, ash pan, butt receptacles, butt bins, butt holders, snuffers, smokers poles, cigarette waste receptacles, smokers waste receptacles, and ash/trash combination. Originally provided as a courtesy to smokers in public places, cigarette receptacles are now commonplace as smoking bans and designated smoking areas require proper disposal methods. A typical receptacle can hold hundreds - even thousands - of disposed cigarette butts.[1] While the United States congress has not attempted to pass a nationwide smoking ban, many states and local governments have enacted their own statutes addressing smoking in public places.[2]

Cigarette litter problem

Proper disposal of cigarette butts is promoted as both an environmental and health issue. It is estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts become litter every year. While cigarette smoking in the United States has decreased, cigarette butt litter remains the most littered item in the United States and globally. The overall littering rate for cigarette butts is 65%, and in all, tobacco products make up 38% of all roadway litter in the United States. Depending on composition, a cigarette butt can take as short as one month, and up to three years and longer to biodegrade. Cigarette filters made of cellulose acetate do eventually biodegrade, while some environmental groups claim filters containing plastic never fully biodegrade. Cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals including nicotine, cadmium and benzene.[3]

Types of cigarette receptacles

Cigarette receptacles for use in public and private establishments can be wall-mounted or free-standing, for indoor and outdoor use. Construction materials include metal (steel, stainless steel, aluminum), concrete, stone/epoxy aggregate, various plastics (polyethylene, recycled plastic), and fiberglass, with receptacles made of one material or a combination of several.

Ash urns

Concrete cigarette ash urn

Ash urns are usually mounted on a pedestal, and present a media such as sand or gravel for a smoker to snuff cigarette butts. This type of cigarette receptacle is also common in ash/trash combination units, with the urn placed on top of a trash bin below.[4]

Wall mounted cigarette receptacles

Wall mounted cigarette receptacles are manufactured in a variety of shapes, sizes and butt disposal methods. Units with all-metal construction allow disposing of cigarette butts into a container with no other extinguishing media required. Some receptacles utilize a separate butt container for clean-out, while one-piece models simply dump used butts.

Tube cigarette receptacles

Tubular cigarette receptacles can be wall-mounted or free standing, of various lengths and diameters. Their simple design allows butts to be deposited directly into the tube, and to extinguish on their own. Usually constructed of metal, no other media, such as sand or water, is required. One and two-piece construction is common.

Free standing cigarette receptacles

Free standing plastic cigarette receptacle

Made in a variety of configurations and construction materials, free standing cigarette receptacles come in heavy pre-cast concrete, lighter weight stone/epoxy aggregate and lighter still materials such as polyethylene, recycled plastic and fiberglass.

Many free standing cigarette receptacles utilize an oxygen restricting design that extinguishes still burning butts. These style receptacles are usually made of molded plastic, polyethylene and fiberglass, with metal inner liners and metal pails to gather disposed butts.[5] Due to their oxygen depriving design, no additional extinguishing media is generally required. Cigarette butts are deposited through a small opening and drop down a long neck into the collection chamber. The collection chamber typically houses the removable pail.

Free standing concrete cigarette receptacle

Other free standing receptacles, such as those made of pre-cast concrete and stone aggregate materials, rely on water, sand or gravel placed in the collection bin to assist in extinguishing disposed butts. Butt removal and clean-out is accomplished through a door in the receptacle's base, or, the base and top separate to allow access to disposed butts.

Free standing plastic cigarette receptacle
Cigarette tree

Enhanced design features

Some cigarette receptacles contain unique design features at the butt entry point. These include:

Theme cigarette receptacles

Cigarette receptacles made of molded materials are often designed to match their surroundings. Sports themes such as receptacles decorated with golf balls and baseballs are common; other examples include nautical receptacles designed to look like buoys, receptacles resembling trees, and receptacles mimicking an architectural style.


Various size metal pails provide easy butt collection and removal. For receptacles with collection pails, odor-absorbing and fire suppressing filters, placed inside the pails, use baking soda for odor control and also release CO2 for fire suppression. Weighted bases assist free standing receptacles to remain steady in inclement weather. In areas where security is a concern, tie-downs, security cables and locks keep the cigarette receptacle safe from theft and vandalism.

See also


  1. High Volume Infinity Receptacle Retrieved 11-08-11
  2. WP: U.S. Smoking Bans
  3. For litter estimates, see and WP: Cigarette.
  4. Bill Main; Gail Greet Hannah (14 May 2010). Site Furnishings: A Complete Guide to the Planning, Selection and Use of Landscape Furniture and Amenities. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 136–. ISBN 978-0-470-63939-9. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  5. Ultra SomkeStop receptacle, Retrieved 11-10-11.
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