Jackson Bill to Combat Tobacco Waste Passes Senate Floor

May 23, 2019

SACRAMENTO –Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)’s legislation to combat tobacco waste in our oceans, beaches, and other waterways by establishing a comprehensive tobacco waste reduction program passed off the Senate Floor on a 25 to 9 vote today. Cigarette butts are the most common litter item found on beaches and roadsides, amounting to over a third of total waste found during coastal cleanup events.

Senate Bill 424 addresses tobacco waste by banning the sale of single-use tobacco products and requiring multi-use tobacco products to be recyclable or collected for take-back by tobacco product manufacturers. Under the bill, manufacturers may form a stewardship organization to take back multi-use tobacco products.

“Tobacco waste is toxic, ubiquitous, and costly to clean up. When local governments are stuck footing the bill for tobacco waste cleanup, the taxpayers ultimately pay. It is time for the tobacco industry to take responsibility for the lifecycle of their products and do their part to reduce their environmental impacts,” said Senator Jackson.

Tobacco and tobacco-laden components leech toxic chemicals—including arsenic, lead, and nicotine—into the environment when improperly disposed. These compounds are especially pernicious in waterways, where small amounts can result in wildlife impairment and mortality. These compounds are also hazardous to children and pets when ingested or handled.

The cost borne by local and state agencies from dealing with tobacco product waste is sizeable, with annual estimates in the tens of millions per large municipality. In 2009, San Francisco spent nearly $10 million on cigarette butt cleanup alone. Municipalities out-of-compliance with water quality laws due to tobacco litter also pay millions for violations and costs to clean.

SB 424 is sponsored by the National Product Stewardship Council. "We thank the Senate for courageously approving a bill to address California's top litter problem-tobacco waste.   Tobacco waste takes many forms -- cigarette butts, plastic filters on small cigars, liquid cartridges, and lithium ion batteries from vape pens to name a few -- and SB 424 would require tobacco companies to help solve the expensive problems that all of these items create.  This is fairer than the way we do it now, with clean-up costs socialized and passed on to local governments, and ultimately, taxpayers," said Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director of the National Stewardship Action Council.

Senate Bill 424 now moves to the Assembly.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.