For her and countless other American smokers, cigarette butts are an exception to the no-littering rule. “Aren’t cigarettes biodegradable?” volunteered Libby Moustakas, a co-worker who was enjoying a smoking break with Ms. Scott.
But dozens of municipalities across the nation have had enough. Weary of the butts’ unsightliness and the costs of sweeping them up, cities have passed bans on smoking on beaches and playgrounds. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom said last week that he would go a step further, seeking a 33-cents-a-pack tax to cover the $11 million that the city spends annually to remove cigarette litter.Nationally, cigarette butts account for one-quarter or more of the items tossed onto streets and other roadways, San Francisco and other cities report.