An Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council

Our Policy team has been busy fighting cigarette butts in the City of Berkeley. After putting up the bus stop ads you helped to fund, we asked you to sign a petition urging the city council to prioritize this serious threat to water quality in the Bay. Nearly 300 residents responded, sending a clear message to the council that they need to play an active role in preventing toxic, plastic cigarette butts from littering our streets and the Bay. Below is the letter we sent to the council. Stay tuned for developments.

RE: Berkeley residents are concerned about cigarette butt litter

Dear Mayor Bates and Councilmembers,

Save The Bay is concerned about the impact of cigarette butt litter on local waterways and the Bay. Berkeley is one of the many communities in our region that is inundated with this toxic, plastic trash, which flows into storm drains and out to the Bay. Save The Bay estimates that over 3 billion cigarette butts are littered in the Bay Area each year, many of which will end up in our waterways. A single cigarette butt in a liter of water is toxic enough to kill half of the fish in that water – imagine the impact thousands can have on Berkeley creeks and along the shoreline.

We are not the only ones concerned. We asked our members in Berkeley to share their opinion with the city council by signing this petition:

I’m one of many Berkeley residents concerned about the effects of cigarette litter on our environment, wildlife, and water quality.

Berkeley has a serious cigarette butt litter problem. During one litter survey, city staff collected an average of 104 cigarette butts at locations throughout the city; bus stops had the most butt litter, with an average of 271 butts at each stop.

Cigarette butts are toxic, plastic trash. In addition to the dozens of toxic chemicals and heavy metals in the leftover tobacco, cigarette filters are plastic and do not biodegrade. They don’t belong in our creeks and along our shorelines.

In order to stem the tide of cigarette butts flowing from our streets into the Bay, our city needs to invest in outreach and take steps to ensure compliance with our existing outdoor smoking ban. Limiting outdoor smoking will keep our citizens and our environment safe and our creeks clean and beautiful.

As of today, 292 Berkeley residents have signed the petition – a strong indication that your constituents want the city to devote resources and attention to implementing solutions. We urge the council to prioritize this issue and look forward to working with you to keep cigarette butts out of our creeks and the Bay.