Filters, commonly known as cigarette butts, do not protect smokers from cancer, emphysema, or other diseases associated with smoking. However, discarded filters create a costly and prevalent source of litter in California and place children and wildlife at risk. To reduce this toxic health risk and needless expenditure, Assembly Bill 48 (Stone, D- Monterey Bay) has been proposed to ban the sale of cigarette filters in California. Over half the waste in beach clean ups such as those conducted by Shark Stewards are cigarette butt waste.
Shark Stewards supports this law because:
- Filters are composed of a type of plastic called cellulose acetate; like other plastics, they do not biodegrade and instead persist as litter in the environment.
- On average 65% of cigarettes are littered.
- From 2006 to 2008, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported approximately 12,600 cases of children ingesting cigarettes or cigarette butts, especially children under six years of age.
- Cigarette butts contain a variety of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals, including lead, chromium, and arsenic, which leach into water when they are littered.
- These chemicals are acutely toxic to fish.
- Birds, fish, and other wildlife can mistake filters for food, leading to disease, death by choking or malnutrition.
- It is estimated that 3 billion cigarette butts hit Bay Area Streets each year.
- Butts collect in municipal storm drains and can empty into waterways, clog storm drains, or clog and sanitary sewer systems increasing maintenance costs.
- The California Department of Transportation has estimated the costs to clean up cigarettes on roadways at $41 million annually
- The City and County of San Francisco estimates its costs for cleanup at $6 million annually.
Stopping butt waste at the source will help reduce the most prevalent form of toxic plastic pollution in our environment, waterways and ocean.
Go to the petition site here and add your voice.