The corner of Mission Boulevard and Mission Bay Drive in Mission Beach came alive on the morning of Saturday, August 13 with a dozen or so Surfrider volunteers who urged everyone to "Hold On To Your Butt!"
The group took to all four corners of the busy intersection with signs, bumper-stickers, information pamphlets and personal ashtrays. A man wearing a Scottish kilt played the bagpipes. The goals for the "Hold On To Your Butt" campaign include reducing cigarette litter, increasing public awareness about the problem and educating consumers about the impacts of tobacco litter on the environment.
To that effect, the California Highway Patrol sent two of their motorcycle officers out to talk about enforcement of litter laws. On the nearby grassy area across from Belmont Park where they parked their CHP motorcycles, one of the patrolmen told me that citing drivers for flicking cigarette butts out their window is "his favorite citation to write." And that last year alone, "he personally wrote up 300 tickets for throwing butts out on the highway."
According to Julie Wartell of Surfrider, "cigarette butts are the number one item that is picked up at the beach clean-ups" sponsored by the group. It is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year worldwide. So holding on to your butt might just be a good idea!