Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)
College of Arts and Sciences
Approximately 16.2 billion cellulose acetate cigarette filters are littered in California annually. Cigarette filter litter (CFL) creates an annual financial burden of over $1.27 billion for California. CFL also poses unquantifiable damages to human and environmental health in the form of ingestion, toxicity, formation into microplastics, and quality of life degradation. These costs and damages warrant the adoption of policy measures in order to mitigate CFL. Cigarette taxes and fees raise government revenue, but they are politically challenging due to California Proposition 26. Locational smoking bans encourage anti-smoking cultural norms and may decrease consumption, although indoor smoking bans may increase littering and outdoor smoking bans are poorly enforced. Raising the minimum cigarette purchasing age should reduce consumption but may take years to reach effectiveness. The enforcement of littering fines is a feasible option to decrease CFL generation. California could mandate that a product stewardship organization be funded by relevant stakeholders to provide and maintain a system that recovers CFL, or the state could implement a CFL deposit-refund model. Both of these options contain operational and administrative risks and are recommended to be piloted in Hawaii before consideration at the scale of California. A product ban on filtered cigarettes would mitigate certain environmental risks but may not mitigate toxic contamination. Recent California tobacco control regulation suggests that the most effective and feasible strategy to mitigate the negative externalities created by cigarette consumption and its generation of litter is a combination of regulatory and market-based policy instruments.
Wechsler, Max, "Policy Options to Mitigate Cigarette Filter Litter in California" (2016). Master's Projects and Capstones. 842.