Over 1,000 Pieces of Tobacco Litter Collected During Marysville Peach Festival Clean-Up

Volunteer tobacco litter clean-up highlights the pressing need for smokefree events.

On July 8 and 18, 2022, volunteers from the Yuba County Tobacco Advocacy Partnership (TAP) collected tobacco litter from the streets of Marysville to measure the environmental impact of tobacco use at the Peach Festival. The 22nd annual Marysville Peach Festival, hosted by the City of Marysville and organized by Sapphire Marketing Group, was the focus of the group’s attention. This significant two-day celebration is a free public event popular with locals and visitors alike, drawing about 30,000 visitors to Historic Downtown Marysville to enjoy music, food, activities, and fresh peaches from local vendors.

TAP conducted a tobacco waste cleanup on July 8th before the Peach Festival and on July 18th, the Monday immediately following the event. “When you see just how much tobacco litter is generated in such a brief timeframe it really shows a different side to the impact of tobacco in our community and at events,” said Sophia Oyewole, Health Promotions Coordinator with the American Lung Association. During the pre-clean up on July 8th, TAP collected 1,650 tobacco waste products on D street between 1st and 7th street. TAP volunteers returned to the area to conduct the post clean up on July 18th and collected another 1,117 individual items of tobacco litter, that was new from the previous ten days.

Between these two clean up days, the clean up team collected a total of 2,767 indivual tobacco litter items including cigarette butts, empty cigarette packages, cigarillo tips/wrappers, smokeless tobacco waste, and e-cigerette waste. Cigarette butts made up more than 80% of the waste. While cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded waste item globally with 1.69 billion lbs of waste generated annually, any tobacco litter left behind after events contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment.1 The tobacco litter collected highlights the environmental impact of tobacco on our physical environment, but the health of attendees is also negatively affected by secondhand smoke exposure.

In 2021, with assistance from First 5 Yuba, Sapphire Marketing Group voluntarily displayed smokefree event signage in an effort to reduce secondhand smoke exposure and make the  event more welcoming for families and children. In May 2022, event organizers sought City support to codify the event’s smokefree status with a written policy. When the recently formed TAP (established in collaboration between the American Lung Association, First 5 Yuba, and California Health Collaborative to advance health equity through local policy) learned about the potential of establishing another smokefree event, they organized a tobacco litter clean-up to bring attention to this community health issue and advocate for a smokefree Peach Festival.

"By encouraging smokefree events we can provide that extra bit of safe breathing space and show the next generation that smoking does not have to be the norm,” says Sarah Kotko, a representative from First 5 Yuba. The smokefree signage at the Peach Festival was well received by event attendees and organizers experienced no difficulty with compliance. 

Secondhand smoke from cigarettes and the aerosol from e-cigarettes and vaping devices can trigger asthma attacks in children and make it difficult for community members with lung health issues such as COPD to breathe.3 Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk that attributes to over 41,000 deaths a year.2 Numerous harmful health effects, such as respiratory infections, lung cancer, and asthma, can be induced or made worse in both children and adults when exposed to secondhand smoke.2 

Smokefree events ensure all participants are protected from secondhand smoke, including secondhand vape aerosol, and reduces the environmental impact of tobacco litter. It’s important for events to create an environment that is fun and healthy for all to enjoy. “Ultimately, TAP wants to see less tobacco litter in spaces shared by the community. Marysville has a beautiful historic downtown and lovely outdoor spaces. All of us can agree that parks, sidewalks, and community events are more enjoyable without thousands of cigarette butts contaminating the water and soil and spoiling the view”, said Marissa Maxey, Project Director for the California Health Collaborative. 

TAP recognizes the importance of protecting everyone in the community from the harms of tobacco. TAP conducted this clean up in an effort to bring the community’s attention to the importance of having smokefree policies from both a health and environmental perspective. If you are interested in joining the campaign to promote smokefree spaces or would like to share a personal story of how you have been impacted by secondhand smoke in Yuba County, please contact our team at [email protected] 

1 World No Tobacco Day campaign raises alarm on tobacco industry environmental impact (who.int)
2 Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke | American Lung Association
3 Tobacco Smoke and Asthma | AAFA.org

For more information, contact:

California Media Contact
(310) 359-6386
[email protected]

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