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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 9, 2019 09:17 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing a state-wide cigarette filter upcycling initiative

For decades the dangers of cigarette smoking have been widely known. Untold numbers of studies have concluded that smoking cigarettes are bad for one’s health and that of those forced to breathe the second-hand smoke.

One negative aspect of smoking cigarettes that has not received much attention, but one that causes substantial harm, is the littering of the cigarette filters, commonly referred to as the butt.

It has been estimated that over 5.5 trillion cigarettes are smoked each year throughout the world and that cigarette butts comprise approximately 30% of the total litter in the United States; they are the number one piece of litter in America. Many people mistakenly believe that butts quickly biodegrade, but they do not.

Not only are cigarette butts the most littered item, but this litter is among the most toxic of all commonly littered items. Cigarette butts contain a multitude of chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, arsenic, nicotine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals.

Once a butt is tossed into the environment these chemicals leach into our soil, drinking water, and our oceans which then contaminate our crops, drinking water and the animals and fish that we eat.

My forthcoming bill would impose a 20 cent deposit on every pack of cigarettes sold in Pennsylvania.

This deposit would be partially returned when cigarette butts are taken to participating collection centers, with a portion allocated to administer this new program.

These collection centers would make available these cigarette butts to enterprises with the proven capacity to upcycle them for safe and innovative reuse in Pennsylvania and beyond.

We owe it to future generations to leave this planet in better condition than it is now. We have
allowed untold amounts of toxic litter from cigarette butts to enter all aspects of our environment and this legislation would not only stop this, but would give Pennsylvanians an incentive to clean up already littered butts.