Baltimore City Sues Major Tobacco Companies For Toxic Cigarette Filter Litter In Unprecedented Lawsuit

A cigarette filter litters a road. Photo by Steven Jenkins via Flickr.

What’s happening?

Mayor Brandon Scott and the Baltimore City Law Department filed a first of its kind lawsuit against major tobacco companies for the millions of dollars the city spends each year to clean up toxic cigarette filter litter, Megan Sayles reports for AFRO News. The companies include Philip Morris USA, Altria Group, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, British American Tobacco P.L.C, Liggett Group LLC, and The George J. Falter Company. 

How widespread is the cigarette filter litter problem?

Scott estimates that the city spends about $5.3 million annually cleaning up cigarette filter litter, and he said the filters’ non-biodegradable plastic pollutes Baltimore’s soil and water. In the complaint, the city’s attorneys claim that, since 2014, Baltimore’s trash wheels have collected more than 12.4 million cigarette filters from waterways. 

The complaint also alleges that the tobacco companies knowingly continue to produce filters that are harmful to the environment and that their cigarette packaging doesn’t include proper disposal instructions for the filters.

“This lawsuit is about holding tobacco companies responsible for the things that are being discarded, especially now when our DPW workers are stretched thin as a result of the pandemic and the great resignation,” Scott said.

Anything else I should know? 

The tobacco companies have until February 27 to respond to the lawsuit, which seeks millions in estimated damages as well as injunctive relief to prevent these companies from continuing to sell cigarettes with these harmful filters.

You can read more here.

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