The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been trying to reduce cigarette litter for over ten years, just about the time it takes for a butt to biodegrade and release its hundred plus toxins into the environment. Cigarette butts rank at the top of the list of littered items throughout the world. The Surfrider Foundation estimates that over two billion butts are flicked daily.
At 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 21, at Belmont Park in Mission Beach, Surfrider Foundation chair and director of the Hold On to Your Butt campaign, Manase Mansur, will appear alongside California Highway Patrol border division chief G.A. Dominguez, CalFire chief Howard Windsor, and San Diego city councilmember Kevin Faulconer to announce Surfriders’ latest attempt at stomping out cigarette litter.
The last attempt came back in 2004, when Surfrider partnered with the County of San Diego in starting a hotline: 1-800-NO-SMOKE. The county paid $50,000 every year for three years to fund the program, which, according to Mansur, was a labor-intensive and expensive program. "It was really targeted against smoking in general," says Mansur. "We're not against smoking and we are not against smokers. So that didn't fit with what we were trying to do."
Mansur says Surfrider has hashed out the issues and he believes that the Hold On to Your Butt campaign will be a much more successful program. This time around, motorists who see a person flick their cig out of the window can dial a national toll-free number: 1-877-211-BUTT (2888). The caller will leave the perpetrator's car make, color, location, and tag number. The information will then get sent to the California Highway Patrol, which will issue a warning letter.
San Diego's Surfrider chapter will pay for the program, which Mansur expects to be about $25,000 per year. A small price to pay, says Mansur, considering the campaign is being waged in San Diego, Orange, Imperial, and Riverside counties, all areas that are prone to wildfires.
In addition to the hotline, since 2006 Surfrider has worked with community organizations such as the O.B., P.B., and Mission Beach town councils, installing “ashcans” throughout those beach communities.
Mansur has high hopes for the program to spread much like the wildfires he hopes to prevent: "We're doing this as a model that will be adopted across the country."
For more on the Hold On to Your Butt campaign visit surfridersd.org.