One thing more than any other nags at me. When driving the sight of a cigarette butt being tossed from a car window makes me urge to honk my horn at the offenders, or when walking around the city the flick of a butt onto the sidewalk from a smoker makes me want to turn and ask if that is how his/her parents instructed them to act. There is no other group more inclined to litter than cigarette smokers, and frankly for the majority of people who do not smoke we think it time for this to end.
That is exactly what Illinois hopes to have happen when a new law goes into effect on January 1st. Tossing a butt on the ground in Illinois will be considered littering, and hefty fines will follow if you’re caught. As it should be.
In the new year tossing a butt the first time is a class B misdemeanor, complete with a fine of up to 15 hundred dollars. The second time, the fine’s the same but the charge is bumped up to a class A misdemeanor. The third time you could do one to three years in jail and pay up to 25-thousand dollars.
No one should expect to get away with littering, but smokers feel they are somehow separate from the rest and continually toss aside their cigarette butts for others to pick up. That must end, and I am really glad that not only did Illinois pass a law, but put some teeth into it so to make it mean something.
Not only are butts unsightly but also contribute to costs for local units of government.
The nonprofit Keep America Beautiful indicated cigarette butts are the most common type of litter and accounted for 40 percent of all roadway litter in 2009. In a 2011 study, the journal Tobacco Control estimated small-city costs for removing cigarette butts is nearly $3 million a year; for larger cities and urban areas, the cost jumps to $15 million annually.