Tossing Used Cigarette Butts On The Ground Now Illegal In Illinois

Anti-smoking laws have limited the number of places someone can smoke and thanks to new legislation, it will now be illegal to toss those cigarette butts anywhere you’d like.

HNGN reported that the new Illinois legislation will take effect on January 1, 2014.

Rockford Register Star reported that anyone who breaks the law will face up to $1,500 in fines, and that’s just for their first conviction.

Cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded pieces of waste worldwide according to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, with an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of butts ending up as toxic waste every years.

HNGN reported that the new amendment to Illinois’s Litter Control Act, HB 3243 advocates that cigarette butts are a dangerous form of litter for the environment.

“Cigarette butts are not biodegradable,” Lori Gummow, executive director of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful, said to the Rockford Register Star.

“They’re made of cellulose acetate, [a plastic]. They get stuck in storm water sewers, and birds eat them and can’t digest them. Run over them with a lawn mower, and they just puff out.”

Creating a law such as this is one thing, but actually enforcing it is another. In many cases, the no smoking within 15 feet of a public building law isn’t always enforced, so how will this new littering law hold up?

Rockford Park District Police Sgt. John Piccolin said he has no problem enforcing the law.

“If I’m driving down the street and I see someone do that (flick a butt out the window), I would take enforcement action.”

A first time conviction is a class B misdemeanor with a fine not exceeding $1,500. A second conviction is a class A misdemeanor with fine not exceeding $1,500.

Third or subsequent convictions? That’s a class 4 felony, punishable by a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment not less than one year and not more than three years according to the Rockford Register Star.

The no smoking ban was a controversial law in itself, and this ban on cigarette butt littering could drudge up more controversy.

[photo credit: sparktography via photopin cc]