We’ve all seen cigarette butts littering our streets, parks, and beaches, but did you know they’re more than just gross? Cigarette butts are plastic, toxic litter that threaten Bay wildlife and water quality. Over 3 billion cigarettes are littered every year in the Bay Area, and many of those find their way into storm drains, flow into creeks, and out to the Bay.
The science behind cigarette butt litter is scary. Not only does the tobacco contain 69 carcinogenic compounds and a host of heavy metals like lead and chromium, the filter is made from a plastic called cellulose acetate, which is also treated with chemicals. The result? A “concentrated brew of environmental toxins.” To add insult to injury, that plastic filter is not biodegradable, contrary to many peoples’ beliefs.
That pile of cigarette butts outside your local bar or next to your bus stop is a toxic waste dump, and the public bears the burden. It’s a fire hazard, a public health hazard, and a huge cost to your city. The City of San Francisco estimates that it spends $6 million per year to clean up cigarette butts alone. That’s ridiculous and unfair. Other industries, like those who manufacture computers, tires, medications, and paint, fund county and state programs to properly dispose of their products so that tax payers and cities aren’t left footing the bill. Why haven’t the tobacco companies taken similar responsibility?
That’s why we set up a petition to tell tobacco companies to keep their butts out of our Bay – please sign it today. And while we work on demanding this accountability, we will also work locally with Bay Area cities and counties to enact policies that prevent cigarette butts from poisoning our waterways. Some have already begun to take action, and we will build upon this momentum.
More to come on this serious Bay pollution issue…