Target: Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois
Goal: Applaud new policy that bans discarding cigarette butts on the ground.
The government of Illinois has decided to take a stand against inappropriate cigarette butt disposal. Cigarette butts are “the most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide,” according to the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights organization. About 1.69 billion pounds of toxic waste are the result of cigarette butt disposal. Tossing a cigarette butt on the ground, or flicking it out of a car window, where it can be consumed by a wild animal or washed down storm drains, now results in steep fines that increase as a perpetrator’s convictions increase.
Cigarette butts are not biodegradable because they are made of a form of plastic called cellulose acetate. In 2009, during the International Coastal Cleanup, an estimated 3,216,991 cigarette butts were picked up from coastlines and waterways. Considering the high toxicity levels of even a single cigarette butt, the waste caused by smokers is extremely environmentally damaging. Some of the 165 chemicals in cigarettes include arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, and benzene, which is also found in pesticides and gasoline. Furthermore, they are often consumed by birds and mammals, but these animals are incapable of digesting them, making them a serious threat to wildlife.
Illinois is taking serious steps toward preventing cigarette butts from ending up in its natural countrysides or waterways by enforcing strict fines when people carelessly dispose of exhausted cigarettes. The first time an offender flicks a cigarette butt out the window of their car or on the ground, it’s classified as a class B misdemeanor and the fine could be up to $1,500. The second time, it’s a class A misdemeanor and could be a much higher fine. The third time and beyond, the perpetrator could face over a year in prison and a $25,000 fine.
By signing this petition, you are thanking Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois for instigating serious consequences for tossing cigarette butts on the ground in an effort to protect the environment.
Dear Governor Rauner,
Due to your efforts, new policies have been made to protect birds, mammals, and waterways from the toxic byproduct of smokers. The state of Illinois is now enforcing high fines and realistic punishments for offenders who toss cigarette butts on the ground or flick them out car windows. The first time, offenders are considered to have committed a class B misdemeanor, and upon the third conviction, offenders could face up to a year in prison.
The most common piece of discarded waste worldwide is the cigarette butt, which has over 165 toxic chemicals, and is non-biodegradable due to its plastic filters. This not only poses an environmental threat to birds and mammals who consume, yet can’t digest the butts, but it is also a threat to all marine life. One cigarette butt introduced to a liter of water resulted in the toxic death of 50 percent of fish in that water, according to a study conducted by San Diego State University.
Thank you so much for taking steps to protect the environment from non-biodegradable cigarette butts, and enforcing strong consequences to the polluters who fail to comply.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Department of Agriculture