Cracking Down On Littering Of Cigarette Butts

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Singapore man was fined $15,000 for throwing cigarette butts out his window. They are strict there. In Singapore’s defense, they charged only $600 for the first 33 offenses.

As a lawyer – or anyone with a brain in his head would say – stop! In the US, litter is a crime that gets no respect – people do it all the time.

Every state has laws that forbid the littering of cigarette butts and other trash thrown from car windows and you should realize that you are actually breaking the law when you do it. Maybe people don’t take it seriously because as violations go, it tends to be listed as a summary offense: one that can cause a fine but rarely leads to jail time.

But laws are changing across the US, like the most recently increased penalties that went into effect last year in Louisiana where a third offense for cigarette littering will incur a $1500 fine and 80 hours of community service. Take that, Singapore!

And, in cases in which a spark from a discarded cigarette leads to a fire there are very serious legal consequences but the much more common consequences are those caused by lack of personal responsibility.

It takes the average cigarette butt 25 years to decompose because of the plastic in the filter and costs states like Texas about $24 million every year picking up litter from the roadside.

I don’t think anyone needs to tell you that you’ll be the butt of the joke (but there, I just did) for tossing that cigarette anywhere but an ashtray.

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