'Rise' in smoking-related litter on Highland streets
The amount of cigarette ends being discarded on Highland streets has increased, according to Keep Scotland Beautiful.
It said almost all the sites it surveyed in 2011-12 had smoking-related litter, mostly thrown away butts.
Less rubbish was found at the same locations previously.
Highland Council blames dropped cigarettes for blocking drains and contaminating water that eventually reaches rivers and the sea.
The local authority will be handing out free ashtrays and car stickers in Inverness city centre to raise awareness about the problem.
The council said some people mistakenly believed the ends bio degrade quickly, while in reality they can take up to 12 years to break down.
Bet McAllister, vice chairman of transport environmental and community services, said the litter was more than just unsightly.
She said: "Butts become trapped between paving stones and are then washed into drains and can cause blockages which in turn can lead to flooding issues.
"They also leak toxins that contaminate water and can harm marine life."
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, added: "Our most recent survey results for 2011-12 show that over three quarters of all sites surveyed in town centres across Highland were blighted with smoking-related litter, usually cigarette ends.
"This is an increase from the previous year, when just over two thirds of sites were affected."