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Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, wants to rid California of butts.

Intent on reducing the amount of non-biodegradable waste that lingers in California's waterways and clogs its beaches, Stone will introduce a bill on Tuesday that prohibits the sale of filtered cigarettes.

Unlike a bill introduced Monday to prohibit the sale of tobacco online, Stone's bill isn't designed to reduce tobacco consumption. Instead, it would fight what Stone called one of the most commonplace environmental threats.

"I am determined to try to address plastic pollution," said Stone.

Penalties for littering have not dissuaded Californians from dropping their filters in nature, Stone said, so he's trying to address the source. The spongy filters that keep many beach cleanups going are also excellent at absorbing toxins, Stone said.

"As soon as they're discarded in the environment, there's a little toxic bomb that's now out there to proliferate whatever toxins it's carrying," Stone said.

If enacted, the bill would mean Californians could only purchase unfiltered cigarettes, which tend to be harsher. Stone rejected the notion that the lack of filters would endanger public health, and his staff point to research questioning whether filters make cigarettes any less bad for you.

"Filters have never been proven to have any effect negative or positive on the effect on the smoker," Stone said.

PHOTO: A Sacramento man smokes a cigarette on the front porch of his home in Sacramento, Thursday, June 11, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling.


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