September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013 – Save The Bay, the largest regional organization working since 1961 to protect and restore San Francisco Bay, launched a new campaign today to curb the tobacco litter that poisons our waterways and Bay.

Saturday, September 21, is Coastal Cleanup Day, an annual one-day worldwide cleanup effort when hundreds of thousands of volunteers pick up millions of pounds of trash from waterways and beaches. Cigarette butts are consistently the number 1 item gathered, making up nearly 40% of all trash collected. Save The Bay estimates that 3 billion cigarette butts are littered just in the Bay Area every year, and millions of littered butts flow to the Bay in storm water.

“Many smokers think that cigarette butts are harmless,” said Allison Chan, Clean Bay Project Campaign Manager for Save the Bay. “In fact they are made of non-biodegradable plastic and contain deadly chemicals that leach into waterways and pose a health hazard to people and wildlife,” added Chan.

Save The Bay is calling on tobacco companies to take responsibility for the toxic burden their products put on the environment and taxpayers, who must pay the cleanup costs.

 In 2008 San Francisco spent over $6 million to clean up cigarette litter within its borders. In 2009 the city became the first to impose a fee on each pack of cigarettes to mitigate the cost of cleaning up tobacco litter.

 “Cigarette litter is a health threat to fish and wildlife and the natural environment,” said Melanie Nutter, director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “San Francisco is taking steps to curb this costly and dangerous form of litter before it enters the Bay.”

 Save The Bay is asking Bay Area residents to sign a petition demanding that tobacco companies reduce the plague of plastic debris they unleash onto our streets and into the Bay, and reduce the financial burden tobacco litter adds to cities.

 Save The Bay’s campaign will also partner with cities and counties to pass ordinances that prevent cigarette butt pollution in the Bay and its creeks, and will raise public awareness that cigarette butts are toxic trash that must be eliminated or properly disposed of to protect public health and the environment.

 About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect, restore and celebrate San Francisco Bay.  As its leading champion since 1961, Save The Bay protects the Bay from pollution and inappropriate shoreline development, making it cleaner and healthier for people and wildlife.  We restore habitat and secure strong policies to re-establish 100,000 acres of wetlands that are essential for a healthy Bay.  We engage more than 40,000 supporters, advocates and volunteers to protect the Bay, and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders by educating thousands of students annually.