For many environmentalists, the problem is not just the litter, but the toxicity. Thomas Novotny, a professor of global health at San Diego State University who supports the San Francisco proposal and beach bans elsewhere, said recent experiments had shown that one butt has enough poisons to kill half the minnows in a liter of water — a standard laboratory test for toxins — in 96 hours.
“Butts are full of poisonous substances, including nicotine, which is a pesticide,” Professor Novotny said.
Part of the article describes butts at the beach. In my youth, after feeding gulls bits from a slice of bread, I would switch to butts found in the sand to trick them for another ten minutes or so. Clearly, the problem isn't a new one.