Tobacco Waste Around the Monterey Bay

The problem...

Between 2013 - 2023, SOS has collected 439,358 cigarette butts from beaches, open spaces, and public areas! As the second the top littered item locally, we know this is just a snapshot of the cigarette litter that continues to negatively impact human and ecosystem health.

Did you know that cigarette butt litter is not only single-use plastic waste (filter), but it is TOXIC waste?

The Cost

The cost of cigarette butt litter is high, both economically and environmentally.

Impossible to Remove

Cigarette filters in the environment will break up into as many as 15,000 microfibers, further polluting our waters and environment with ever smaller bits of plastic that are essentially impossible to remove.


The butts leach toxic chemicals into the environment including nicotine, lead, and arsenic that contaminate our food, soil, and water.

Expensive Locally

A study estimated that public litter abatement or removal of cigarette butts could cost between $3 million to $16 million for each U.S. city.

Expensive for California

Picking up littered items including cigarette butts costs taxpayers and organizations big money. California invested $1.1 billion in state and local waste clean-up in 2021.

Did you know? In 2019, Senate Bill 8 was signed into law, effectively banning smoking in all state parks and beaches.


Save Our Shores have been collaborating with other groups and organizations such as the Tobacco Education Coalition, Ciggy Surfboard, and Surfrider Foundation. We are also working with representatives from the City and County of Santa Cruz to end the local sale of single-use cigarette filters. 

While we support everyone’s right to engage in legal activities, we do not support the illegal toxic littering of our beaches and public spaces that impact all of us.


Stay tuned for ways to take action in your community.