Isn’t it time we told tobacco companies that Santa Cruz County isn’t their ashtray?
Yuck! Cigarette butts. They’re everywhere. They’re so common that some people don’t even notice anymore. In fact, cigarette butts are the #1 item found on California beaches and roadways. Members of the Tobacco Education Coalition think it’s time for Big Tobacco to clean up their mess. You can help.
Not Just Litter, Toxic Waste
The billions of cigarette butts littering our streets, parks, and waterways aren’t just litter—they’re toxic waste. Cigarette filters are made of plastic, not paper, and can take decades to decompose. They leach toxic chemicals into the environment including lead, arsenic and nicotine – the same chemicals found in secondhand smoke. There are major environmental and public health impacts from this waste, not to mention the cost to local governments and tax payers who pay to pick it up.
A Threat to Children, Pets, and Wildlife
Cigarette butts in our parks, playgrounds and other open spaces can poison children, pets, and wildlife. They also harm our beloved Santa Cruz County beaches and ocean habitats, including the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
What Can We Do?
Big Tobacco should take responsibility for the proper disposal of cigarette butts! The Coalition is working with local jurisdictions to make that happen through “extended producer responsibility” or EPR policies. EPR makes the manufacturer responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product—from creation through disposal. EPR policies are already in place in Santa Cruz County for medications and syringes, requiring manufacturers to create and pay for take-back programs.
Local tobacco waste EPR policies would require tobacco companies to take responsibility for their product’s toxic litter or pay a fee to help our community develop tobacco litter programs.
Help Us Put Responsibility for Tobacco Waste Where it Belongs
Come to Coalition meetings to strategize about next steps! You could help with proposed activities such as: conducting public opinion polls about tobacco litter; helping with tobacco litter clean-up events; attending educational meetings with local policy makers; writing letters, articles and op-eds about tobacco waste for local publications.
Tobacco Waste Resources