California law would ban filtered cigarettes

Discarded filters are a major environmental scourge, says assemblyman Mark Stone

Topics: Cigarettes, Pollution, California, ,

Citing dangers posed to “children, wildlife and the environment,” a California assemblyman has introduced a bill targeting not cigarettes, but their filters. Discarded filtered cigarette butts, says Mark Stone, are “the single largest item on beaches, waterways, gutters and storm drains,” costing the state $41 million annually in clean-up costs. The bill, if passed, would make it illegal to sell or give away filtered cigarettes — and impose a $500 fine on anyone who tried.

“Cigarette filters leach dangerous chemicals into the environment, kill animals that eat them, and cause communities to spend millions of taxpayer dollars for clean-up,” Stone said in a statement last week. “California has many laws in place to curtail cigarette litter, but people continue to illegally discard tons of cigarette butts each year. The current laws aren’t sufficient to address this major problem.”

Because Stone’s proposal has nothing to do with public health (aside from the health risk that discarded butts pose to children), smokers would still be free to puff away at filterless or electronic cigarettes, or to carry around a reusable filter. It’s also worth pointing out that filtered cigarettes aren’t any safer than their unfiltered counterparts, although people who smoke them may mistakenly believe this to be the case. The environmental risks, on the other hand, are significant. More from KCET on that:

You Might Also Like

Most commonly available cigarette filters are mainly made of fibers of the plastic cellulose acetate, which can take more than a decade to fall apart on exposure to the elements. Though cellulose acetate is a relatively benign material, smokers coat the filters’ fibers with toxic tar and nicotine compounds by the act of smoking. Nicotine in discarded filters is known to pose a serious risk to small children. More than 13,000 calls to poison control centers from 2006 through 2008 involved kids eating cigarette butts, and other studies show that it’s kids a year old or less that are at the most risk.

Even without the risk of toxicity from nicotine, the non-biodegradable filter components can accumulate in the stomachs of animals that ingest them, with malnutrition and starvation often resulting.

Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.


    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...