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Isn’t it time we told tobacco companies that Santa Cruz County isn’t their ashtray?

Yuck! Cigarette butts. They’re everywhere. They’re so common that some people don’t even notice anymore. In fact, cigarette butts are the #1 item found on California beaches and roadways. Members of the Tobacco Education Coalition think it’s time for Big Tobacco to clean up their mess. You can help.

Not Just Litter, Toxic Waste

The billions of cigarette butts littering our streets, parks, and waterways aren’t just litter—they’re toxic waste. Cigarette filters are made of plastic, not paper, and can take decades to decompose. They leach toxic chemicals into the environment including lead, arsenic and nicotine – the same chemicals found in secondhand smoke. There are major environmental and public health impacts from this waste, not to mention the cost to local governments and tax payers who pay to pick it up.

A Threat to Children, Pets, and Wildlife 

Cigarette butts in our parks, playgrounds and other open spaces can poison children, pets, and wildlife. They also harm our beloved Santa Cruz County beaches and ocean habitats, including the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

What Can We Do?

Big Tobacco should take responsibility for the proper disposal of cigarette butts! The Coalition is working with local jurisdictions to make that happen through “extended producer responsibility” or EPR policies. EPR makes the manufacturer responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product—from creation through disposal. EPR policies are already in place in Santa Cruz County for medications and syringes, requiring manufacturers to create and pay for take-back programs.

Local tobacco waste EPR policies would require tobacco companies to take responsibility for their product’s toxic litter or pay a fee to help our community develop tobacco litter programs.

Help Us Put Responsibility for Tobacco Waste Where it Belongs

Come to Coalition meetings to strategize about next steps! You could help with proposed activities such as: conducting public opinion polls about tobacco litter; helping with tobacco litter clean-up events; attending educational meetings with local policy makers; writing letters, articles and op-eds about tobacco waste for local publications.

Tobacco Waste Resources


Santa Cruz Passes a Tobacco Waste Resolution!

On April 27, 2021, the Santa Cruz City Council passed a Resolution Recognizing Tobacco Waste as a Public Health and Environmental Threat. The Council resolved to "advance policy approaches to reduce or eliminate this toxic waste in our community."  You can find more information here. 

Thank you to council members for their leadership!


TEC Mission Statement

The Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition (TEC) is committed to promoting and advocating a tobacco-free lifestyle and environment at the local, state, and national levels. We empower our communities to effect individual and social change through education, advocacy, collaboration, and coordination of resources.  The Coalition recognizes individual rights and cultural traditions, while encouraging community responsibility and involvement.



Report Smoking Violations
(831) 454-4319

If you want to make a complaint about a smoking violation inside a building, call (831) 454-4319 or fill out this electronic form.

Tobacco Retail Licenses (TRL)
Looking for information about how to obtain a Tobacco Retailer’s License? Click here.


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