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Surfrider Foundation and NOAA Launch ‘Love SF - Hold On To Your Butt’ Campaign To Prevent Cigarette Litter in San Francisco

San Francisco smokers can now show their love for San Francisco and prevent cigarette litter by using pocket ashtrays and cigarette receptacles as a result of this innovative campaign. 

San Francisco, Calif., August 26, 2021 – The Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter, part of a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of clean water and healthy beaches, today launched its ‘Love SF - Hold On To Your Butt’ campaign to prevent cigarette litter in San Francisco and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. 

The new ‘Love SF - Hold On To Your Butt’ campaign encourages smokers to love San Francisco by holding on to cigarette butts rather than discarding them on the ground where they often end up on beaches and in the ocean. The campaign builds on the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter’s current Hold On To Your Butt program, which aims to prevent cigarette litter through education and by providing safe places, such as cigarette receptacles, for smokers to dispose of cigarette butts. Since implementing the Hold On To Your Butt program in 2015, the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter has successfully diverted more than 800 pounds of cigarette waste from waterways, beaches and city streets. 

As a result of a highly competitive grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program to further these efforts, the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter is installing 175 new cigarette receptacles, in addition to producing a public service announcement and infographic through the ‘Love SF - Hold On To Your Butt’ campaign. The chapter is also distributing 12,000 ‘pocket ashtrays,’ which are reusable, portable, fireproof pouches or containers, to keep cigarette butts off the street and out of the ocean and bay.

People who smoke can now deposit their cigarette butts in one of the more than 250 cigarette receptacles or ‘buttcans’ throughout the city and along the coast. They can also pick up a free pocket ashtray from any participating business. The Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter’s Buttcans & Free Pocket Ashtray Map makes it easy to locate these pollution prevention tools. 

“The NOAA Marine Debris Program is pleased to support the great work of the ‘Love SF - Hold On To Your Butt’ campaign,” said the NOAA Marine Debris Program's California Regional Coordinator, Christy Kehoe. “Cigarette butts are one of the most common types of trash that are found during marine debris cleanups in California. Preventing them from entering the environment in the first place will help to protect the animals and plants of the Bay, as well as our ability to enjoy the scenic areas we love without unsightly litter.” The project also contributes to implementation of the California Ocean Litter Prevention Strategy, a holistic and collaborative strategy for addressing ocean litter in California.

Cigarette butts are the number one most littered item in San Francisco and around the world. These toxic items, which are made from plastic, are easily swept from the streets and sidewalks into the sewer system or directly into the ocean, where they pollute the marine environment.

“Many smokers do not know that cigarette filters are made of plastic, or that flicking them onto our streets and shores has harmful environmental impacts,” said the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco’s ‘Love SF - Hold on to Your Butt’ campaign lead, Shelly Ericksen. “Littered cigarette butts are loaded with toxic chemicals, including arsenic, lead, and cadmium, which can poison small animals that mistake them for food. When those chemicals leach into our ocean and groundwater, they can get into the food chain and threaten the safety of the food we eat. Our goal is to keep cigarette litter out of our environment.”

The cigarette receptacles are maintained with the support of the National Park Service and San Francisco Public Works Community Corridors Partnership. The cigarette butts that are collected by the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter are provided to TerraCycle, which composts any remaining tobacco and recycles the plastic filters into industrial products, such as shipping pallets.

“Recycling cigarette butts provides a zero-waste solution to the cigarette waste problem,” said Ericksen. “This program helps San Francisco to progress toward its environmental goals by keeping cigarette waste out of our ocean and reducing the amount of trash going to landfills.”

San Franciscans can learn more about the Hold On To Your Butt campaign and the Surfrider Foundation San Francisco Chapter’s programs by visiting


About the Surfrider Foundation
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches, for all people, through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 170 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 700 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at

About NOAA
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter, Facebook and our other social media channels. Visit our news and features page.