As the city of Santa Maria continues to consider restricting tobacco use in its parks, the latest data show that cigarette butt litter has increased from 2007 to 2008.

In November 2007, 222 cigarette butts were collected at four Santa Maria parks during a one-week period. This past September, the number jumped to 1,713.

The cigarette butt litter collections are part of cleanup weeks conducted countywide by the Public Health Department and community partner agencies including the Kiwanis Key Clubs at Pioneer and Santa Maria high schools, the American Lung Association of California, the Santa Maria Recreation & Parks Department and the Council on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism.

The number of cigarette butts picked up show that cigarette butt litter is an ongoing problem. Cigarette butts are unsightly, toxic, take many years to biodegrade and use costly resources for their removal.

For more information about the cigarette butt cleanup results, information on any tobacco-related topics or to get involved in local efforts, send an e-mail to Click here for information about Santa Maria public hearings.

Michele Mickiewicz is a public information officer for the Public Health Department.