Kicking Butts in El Cerrito

3 billion cigarette butts are littered in the Bay Area each year.
3 billion cigarette butts are littered in the Bay Area each year.

Update 10/8/14: We’re excited to announce that the El Cerrito City Council unanimously approved the Smoking Pollution Protection Ordinance at last night’s council meeting! Save the Bay looks forward to working with El Cerrito to implement the ordinance and keep butts out of the city’s waterways and the Bay.

For more information about cigarette butt litter in the Bay Area, check out our butt hot spot map:
Interactive Map: Bay Area Cigarette Butt Litter Hot Spots

Last week, the El Cerrito City Council tentatively approved one of the strongest smoking ordinances in the state, confirming their commitment to keeping cigarette butts out of the Bay.

The Smoking Pollution Protection Ordinance, which the council will finalize in October, will ban smoking in almost all public outdoor places in El Cerrito. That means smoke-free shopping areas, sidewalks, parks, outdoor dining areas, bus stops – you name it. The ordinance will also establish smoke-free multiunit housing, which includes condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.

Not only will El Cerrito’s ordinance protect the public from the dangerous impacts of second-hand smoke, it is a huge step in achieving a Butt Free Bay. Limiting outdoor smoking reduces the opportunity for cigarette butts to be littered on city streets, flow into storm drains and creeks, and threaten water quality and wildlife in the Bay. If a single cigarette butt can kill half the fish in a liter of water, imagine the damage from the estimated 3 billion butts littered in our region each year.

During the ordinance planning process, Save The Bay helped to ensure that the litter problem caused by outdoor smoking was a priority consideration. El Cerrito, like 75 other Bay Area cities and counties, is required to eliminate trash from their storm drains and creeks by 2022; in three years, cities have to demonstrate that they’ve achieved a 70 percent reduction. This is a huge endeavor, and the only way cities will reach this goal is by addressing the most comment types of trash in our waterways – cigarette butts top the chart by leaps and bounds.

Please join us in thanking the El Cerrito City Council for taking this vital step toward a trash free Bay and for being a model for the rest of the Bay Area.