Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a fee on cigarettes sold in San Francisco. The fee will recover the cost of cleaning up cigarette litter on sidewalks and in gutters.
“All litter creates unnecessary costs for the city and its taxpayers,” said Mayor Newsom. “Cigarette butts are a big part of the problem.”
This year, the city’s annual litter 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.
A new study documents the relationship between these costs and the incidence of tobacco litter; preliminary results indicate that the per pack fee will be 33 cents a pack.
Newsom will include this fee as a line item in his June 1 budget and will introduce legislation to enact a regulatory fee to recover these costs from the consumers of cigarettes. Retailers will be responsible for reporting and remitting the collected fee back to the City on a regular basis.
The collected revenue will go back to City departments charged with collecting litter.
Newsom also said that cigarette litter is bad for the environment.
“Cigarette butts contain benzene and toxic heavy metals that can poison the marine environment and leach into groundwater,” he said.
Newsom said that researchers at San Diego State University have learned that chemicals from just one filtered cigarette butt can kill all fish living in a one-liter bucket of water.