In April, the Tobacco Control Program announced a new collaboration with the Central Coast Clean Campaign: a campaign with the goal to reduce littering on the central coast.
The collaboration plans to do this by placing new waste receptacles in public locations and increasing social media messaging on toxic tobacco waste, according to the Public Health Department of San Luis Obispo County.
According to Tobacco Control Program Manager for San Luis Obispo County Amy Gilman, these products not only affect the health of users, but they also pose a threat to our local environment.
“A Puff Bar has about eight times the amount of nicotine in the Puff Bar juice compared to a cigarette,” Gilman said. “Technically, that’s a biohazard because of the high concentration of nicotine. It actually qualifies as a biohazard.”
Nutrition science junior and co-president of Cal Poly Surfrider Lauren Londono said waste being found in the ocean is very prevalent on the Central Coast.
“Our cigarette butts are the most found trash item on our beaches,” Londono said.
The Surfrider Foundation is a national organization with local chapters on college campuses. The foundation works to promote the protection of the ocean from waste. On average, 4.5 trillion cigarettes are littered every year..
“Everything is connected and when tobacco products — cigarette butts and other vapes and cartridges — are going down storm drains because people are littering, it’s gonna get to the ocean, and that, obviously, is not good for marine life and just for the ecosystems,” Londono said.
More information on this collaboration and how community members can get involved is available at slocounty.ca.gov/tobacco.