New bill would create strict penalties for littering cigarettes

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 11 at 6:20 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- A proposed new law, now working its way through the Louisiana legislature seeks to extinguish the practice of throwing cigarette butts on the ground.

Smokes litter the landscape in downtown New Orleans. The Downtown Development District's "clean team" spent one whole day picking up butts.

"It was 6,871 cigarette butts in a single day on the sidewalks of downtown, and so it's a really substantial problem," said DDD President and CEO Kurt Weigle.

State Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, is sponsoring a bill aimed at cracking down on cigarette litter.

People throwing their butts out of a vehicle or on the ground would face a $300 fine and eight hours of community service.

"If you look at the statistics from "Keep America Beautiful" and those type of organizations, cigarette butts are the number one litter problem in the nation," Connick said. "Cigarette butts are not only a problem in the city center, they are also a problem along any street or highway in the state."

Connick said he got the idea for the bill while cleaning up litter under the Westbank Expressway in his district.

"Every time we go there, there's thousands of cigarette butts that we have to scoop up with shovels and put into a wheel barrel," said Connick.

Smoker Pamela McCool said it shouldn't be a crime to flick your butts.

"I think it ludicrous," she said. "If they're really going to go ahead with that, put some receptacles out there so people can actually put their cigarette butts in a receptacle."

The DDD has a message for smokers. Stickers on parking kiosks tell smokers to "Walk Your Butt To The Can."

"We find that often times you have to resort to the stick instead of the carrot, and so I think it's certainly not a bad thing to have (a law) like that on the books."

Connick said a new law recently passed in Illinois that sets the fine for flicking butts at $1500 per cigarette.

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