As any smoker will tell you, a tobacco habit is not cheap. And like with most things, smoking cigarettes is even more expensive in San Francisco, where the cost of a pack of butts now includes a fee to pay for… bureaucracy.
The city charges smokers an extra 20 cents per pack under the “cigarette abatement fee,” a brainchild of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who dislikes smoking as much as he dislikes littering.
That 20 cent cost could be reduced by as early as December 1, when the City Controller must report exactly how much the city is collecting via the fee. By law, the city may only collect enough fee to cover the cost to pick up cigarette butts, so if it’s collecting more or less, the fee must be adjusted.
But figuring out how much the fee must be adjusted isn’t cheap, either. To merely “implement and collect” the fee costs the city $356,000, according to a memo from the Treasurer’s Office, meaning that roughly 10 percent — or two cents — of the 20 cent cigarette abatement fee goes towards paying public employees.
One could argue that the cigarette fee is creating jobs: one full-time “Auditor,” making $81,432, is assigned to fee collection, according to the report, and a half-dozen other positions — an Account Clerk, a Senior Account Clerk, a Principal Accountant and a Principal Administrative Analyst — are at least partially devoted to making cigarettes in San Francisco more expensive.
So there you go: smoke some Camels, pay to have your butts picked up — and keep some folks employed by the city, all at the time time.