Tossing cigarette butts from cars could soon bring steep fines
People throw cigarette butts from vehicles across Louisiana roadways, and one state lawmaker is trying to clean up the problem.
"It's just the No. 1 litter problem in the United States and in the state of Louisiana," said Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero.
Connick is pushing a bill that would hit violators with some serious fines: $300 for a first offense and $700 for a second, with a third offense costing violators $1,500.
Each offense carries community service. A third violation would result in the loss of your driver's license for a year.
Connick said smokers need to understand that cigarette butts add up to a big mess.
"I think some (people) don't care. I think most don't realize what they're doing is littering, and these things don't go away. They build up in storm drains and they clog up stuff," he said. "It's unsightly and hopefully this law will make a difference."
Some folks we talked with downtown Friday believe it's a great idea, but the proposed penalties don't sit well with others.
"I hate (seeing cigarette butts). It's disgusting. The city is really a beautiful city, full of historical value and everything like that. That just kind of ruins it," said Ada Abioie.
"They got higher laws for a cigarette butt than they got for drug charges. I think they got bigger fish to fry," said Zach Peralta. "At the end of the day, you shouldn't be allowing people to litter everywhere, but it's a cigarette butt."
Like it or not, the bill is moving through the legislative session easily thus far. The senate passed it this week, sending it back to the House for approval of amendments that added cigars and plastic tips from cigars and cigarillos.
Connick said it'll ultimately be up to police to tackle the problem.
"The law enforcement officials need to step up and be proactive and stop this from occurring. I think once that happens and a few people get fined and have to do community service, the word will get out and maybe they will pay attention to the problem and slow it down some," Connick said.