SPRINGFIELD | Although Illinois lawmakers misfired this spring on big issues like pension reform and gay marriage, they did crack down on butts before leaving town for the summer.
Legislation that would add improper cigarette disposal to the state’s Litter Control Act is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Although most Illinoisans likely thought cigarette butts were already considered litter, there was no specific reference to them in the state’s statutes.
Under House Bill 3243, cigarette butts would be added to the list of items in which a person can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for littering.
State Rep. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, sponsored the legislation.
“There has been a big push around the country to have designated areas to dispose of cigarette butts, but since smoking is a mobile habit, it’s easy to just drop a butt wherever you’re at without a second thought,” Martinez said. “And, not only are we looking to combat a litter problem, but also a potential fire hazard from lit cigarette butts being thrown on the ground.”
If found guilty, a careless smoker could be fined a maximum of $1,500 and up to 180 days in jail. The statute also notes that a judge could require a scofflaw to pick up litter along a designated stretch of road for up to 30 days.
The new law may not be the only factor if fewer cigarette butts are tossed on the roadways in the coming year.
According to new figures released by the General Assembly’s fiscal forecasting arm Wednesday, the recent $1 per pack increase in the state cigarette tax may have been a factor in a decline of about 33 percent in the number of packs taxed through the first three quarters of the state’s fiscal year.