In an effort to curb litter, the state of Illinois has made it illegal to toss cigarette butts on the ground, nailing first time offenders with a $1,500 fine.
According to the national lobbying organization Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, cigarette butts are "the most commonly discarded pieces of waste worldwide," estimating 1.69 billion pounds of butts ending up as toxic waste every year.
"Cigarette butts are not biodegradable," said Lori Gummow, executive director of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. "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."
The state's ban on butts should do a great deal to help keep it clean. Though first time offenders could receive no more than $1,500 for a class B misdemeanor, the second offense could change to class A and could cost more. Third and fourth time offenders could see a year in jail and face a fine of up to $25,000.
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