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 cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that, over time, breaks down into microplastic particles. They leach toxic chemicals into the environment including lead, arsenic and nicotine. 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. And now, e-cigarettes have created a brand new source of pollution with their battery-operated devices and single-use plastic flavor pods! 

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. In addition, tobacco waste is an environmental justice issue. Low-income communities and communities of color bear the highest burden from this toxic waste. These are the same communities that have the highest density of tobacco retailers and tobacco advertising. 

What Can You Do?

There are lots of things individuals can do to keep tobacco waste out of our environment. Most importantly, don't smoke or vape. If you do, properly dispose of your tobacco waste. Educate your family and friends about the environmental impact of tobacco products. Take part in cleanups and awareness events. You can also let your local policy makers know that you care about this issue. Tell them that you want to see policies passed that hold Big Tobacco responsible for the damage their products do to both human and environmental health! 

Use Your Voice to Make Change

The Coalition is working to educate local leaders about policy solutions to end tobacco waste. Come to Coalition meetings to strategize about next steps! You could help with activities such as: conducting public opinion polls about tobacco litter; gathering tobacco litter data; attending educational meetings with policy makers; writing letters, articles and op-eds about tobacco waste for local publications.

Tobacco Waste Resources


Scotts Valley Passes a TPW Resolution

On April 3, the Scotts Valley City Council passed a Resolution Recognizing Tobacco Product Waste as a Public Health and Environmental Threat, becoming the fifth and final jurisdiction in Santa Cruz County to do so. We are excited by this growing regional collaboration!

Capitola Passes a TPW Resolution

On October 12, 2023 the Capitola City Council passed a Resolution Recognizing Tobacco Product Waste as a Public Health and Environmental Threat.

Board of Supervisors Passes a TPW Resolution

At their May 16, 2023 meeting, the Supervisors passed a Resolution Recognizing Tobacco Product Waste as a Public Health and Environmental Threat. The supervisors resolved to bring forth policy approaches to address this waste by January of 2025.  

State-wide Flavored Tobacco Sales Ban Passes

On November 8, 2022, California Voters upheld Sentate Bill 793, prohibiting retailers from selling most flavored tobacco products. For more information, visit the California Department of Public Health website. 

Scotts Valley Bans Flavored Tobacco Sales

On June 15, 2022 the Scotts Valley City Council banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol. Now all five jurisdictions in Santa Cruz County have equal protections against the sale of these products. Scotts Valley also banned smoking in outdoor dining establishments. 

Santa Cruz and Watsonville Pass Tobacco Waste Resolutions!

In 2021, both the Santa Cruz and Watsonville city councils passed resolutions recognizing Tobacco Waste as a Public Health and Environmental Threat. The Councils resolved to "advance policy approaches to reduce or eliminate this toxic waste in our community."  


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.

Breathe California also maintains a secondhand smoke helpline for Santa Cruz County residents. Call (408) 999-0500.

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


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