OCEANO, CA (January 15, 2018) – Again last year, California’s Governor vetoed a bill to ban smoking at state beaches and parks. He asked, “If people can’t smoke even on a deserted beach, where can they?” The San Luis Obispo Chapter of Surfrider intends to show him that the problem lies not on deserted beaches, but on the heavily-touristed sands of the Central Coast.
“We’d love to collect all the butts throughout the year, drive them to Sacramento in a dump truck, and drop them on the lawn of the governor’s mansion,” said Cynthia Replogle, who leads the Hold On To Your Butt program for the SLO chapter of Surfrider. “But that poses logistical problems, so we’ve created a social media campaign to convince Brown to sign the bills into law this year.” She added, “Anyone can participate, whenever and wherever they see cigarette butts on a state beach.”
The #Butts4Brown campaign aims to raise Governor Brown’s awareness about the harmful impacts of cigarette butt litter on our oceans, waves and beaches. The plan is to count cigarette butts collected in cleanups of state beaches, then tag the Governor when posting photos of the butts to social media with the hashtag “#Butts4Brown”. The first cleanup is January 20th at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
SB-836 “State beaches: smoking ban" and AB-1097 “State beaches and parks: smoking ban” are currently coming up through the California state legislature. When the bills are on the governor’s desk later this year, Surfrider will deliver copies of all the photos tagged with #Butts4Brown to the Governor.
While small in size, cigarettes have a significant negative impact on California’s environment and marine ecosystem. Cigarette butts contain more than 150 toxic chemicals, and these harmful nuisances frequently litter our coasts and enter the water. Discarded cigarettes are the number one item found in the state’s coastal cleanups, and a study by the California Ocean Protection Council found that about 40% of debris collected in 2010 at California Coastal Cleanup Day was from smoking-related activities. Not only is all this litter harmful to marine life and a major cause of visual blight, but smoking also leads to second-hand smoke health concerns for the public and has been linked to wildfires in state parks. On Coastal Cleanup Day last year, volunteers with Surfrider and ECOSLO picked up nearly 15,000 cigarette butts from SLO County coastal areas.
For more information on Surfrider’s Hold On To Your Butt program, go to https://slo.surfrider.org/programs/clean-water/hold-on-to-your-butt/.