Smokers need to watch their butts
Most people do not purposely litter. We all know land and ditches filled with trash is not only unsightly, but causes a number of problems.
However, few consider the problems created by cigarette butts.
The Louisiana Legislature has taken notice, however. In fact, throwing a cigarette butt out your car window could get you a hefty fine, if lawmakers agree to a proposal that received the unanimous backing of the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday. The measure moves next to the full House for consideration.
The bill (House Bill 910) would add cigarettes and cigarette butts to the definition of litter in Louisiana law and make it subject to penalties for intentional littering.
A first offense would carry a $300 fine and 16 hours of community service in a litter cleanup program. A second offense would cost $700 and require 32 hours of community service. On a third offense, violators could give up their driver’s licenses for a year, pay a $1,500 fine and have to perform 160 hours of litter cleanup time.
According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), cigarette butts are the most frequently littered item. Tobacco products comprise 38 percent of all roadway litter in the U.S. and 30 percent at “transition points,” places where smokers have to discontinue smoking before proceeding. Ironically, KAB reports that medical and hospital sites have the highest cigarette butt littering rates, followed by recreation areas, bars/restaurants and retail locations.
KAB also reported that even if a public or private ashtray was available nearby, many smokers would still carelessly toss their butts on the ground.
Cigarette butts are non-biodegradable, meaning unlike some items, they cannot and will not break down and eventually disappear. Instead, the butts accumulate, and since they contain a number of harmful chemicals, they can and are hazardous to surrounding plants and animals. They can also work to clog drains and pipes.
If you smoke, be respectful of your surroundings and the environment. Use an available ashtray or extinguish the flame on your cigarette then toss it into a proper receptacle. Even small, inexpensive ashtrays are available to keep in your vehicle.
It’s likely lawmakers will soon back a law that could cost you a few hundred bucks if you keep tossing your trash onto roadways.
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