Newsom Wages War on Cigarette Butts

Mayor wants to charge tax to clean up mess

By Sajid Farooq
|  Tuesday, May 19, 2009  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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Newsom Wages War on Cigarette Butts

El Tekolote via Flickr

That cigarette butt could soon cost smokers 33 cents a pack extra.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is putting forward a measure to tax away butts on city streets. Cigarette butts that is.

A litter audit last year revealed that while overall litter was down, cigarette litter had nearly doubled. Of course we all know that the San Francisco mayor is running for governor and needs to score some extra credit points ahead of the election.

The study revealed that cigarette-related litter makes up 25 percent of all litter found on sidewalks in gutters. City government spends $44,282,843 per year picking up litter in San Francisco, and $10,694,425 per year is directly attributable to cigarette litter.

“Cigarette butts contain benzene and toxic heavy metals that can poison the marine environment and leach into groundwater,” Newsom said. “All litter creates unnecessary costs for the city and its taxpayers. Cigarette butts are a big part of the problem.”

The proposal would add 33 cents to every cigarette pack, which is not going to win any votes from smokers.

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