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7900 Cigarette butts were piked up by one resident from January to July 2020. This does not count the cigarette packaging, which includes clear film which almost always washes out to be eaten by marine life. 



Cigarettes are the number one most littered item in the world, despite non-smoking bans on beaches and public areas.

Butts are a major concern for the health of San Diego County beaches. They are non-biodegradable and leach toxins, dangerous chemicals, and carcinogens into the water, poisoning marine life and beach goers alike. They also move with ease through city storm-water systems, entering roadside storm drains and traveling miles underground through conveyance infrastructure to outfalls along the coast. Because storm-water is untreated, littered butts from all over the county find their way to the beach eventually.

This plastic is uniquely dangerous because it most often contains trace amounts of the carcinogenic chemicals in the original cigarette. When the plastic additives, absorbed nicotine, and trace heavy metals (such as lead and arsenic) leach from cigarette butts; they become integrated in the chemical composition of the surrounding seawater. Once ingested by marine life, these microplastics pose physical and biochemical risks that can kill marine organisms and/or bioaccumulate along the food chain. Ultimately, these adverse effects impact humans through seafood consumption and the associated water pollution.

Of the six trillion cigarettes smoked worldwide each year, an estimated 4.5 million butts are tossed directly into the environment. In the United States, “smoking-related debris” make up over one-third of all the anthropogenic waste found on beaches, and in rivers and streams. [Cigarette Butt Pollution Project]

Not So Fun Fact  
    Fragments of cigarette filters have been found in 70 percent of seabirds and
    30 percent of sea turtles,
    The are not biodegradeable. They’re made from cellulose acetate, and this
    does degrade in the presence of UV light but they send arsenic, benzene and
    lead into your food source.

Fun Facts
    Cigarettes can be repurposed into Surfboards, fins, clothing and art projects.
    South Korea is working on a program to recycled filters to make energy
    Playa De Carmen Mexico has launched a cigarette recycling to make pots.
    Terracycle has a Cigarette Recycling program.
    Smoking on beaches, parks and parking lots is illegal and subject to fines.

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