Tossing cigarettes could yield hefty fines
By Stephanie Lulay email@example.com September 5, 2013 7:14PM
Stephanie A. Kifowit
Updated: October 7, 2013 1:33PM
Next year, Fox Valley smokers who dispose of their cigarettes by tossing cigarette butts on sidewalks will be subject to a fine, according to new rules.
An amendment signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in August will add cigarette butts to the state’s litter control act beginning Jan. 1. The violation carries a potential Class B misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $1,500.
How did Fox Valley legislators vote on the cigarette butt-flicking issue?
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, a Democrat from Aurora, said she voted in support of the measure because she wants to see cigarette butts disposed of properly.
“In the median at the corner of Douglas and [Route] 30, there are piles and piles of cigarette butts. That’s an eyesore, and it’s not good for the community,” Kifowit said.
The butts can be picked up by small children, which poses a hazard, she said.
“Unfortunately, it should be common sense for people to [not throw butts on the ground] but it’s become a chronic issue,” Kifowit said.
The bill unanimously passed the Illinois Senate 55-0 and passed the Illinois House 71-45.
Many other Fox Valley legislators were “yes” votes on the issue. State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, a Democrat from Aurora; State Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat from Aurora; State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Republican from Sugar Grove; State Rep. Tim Schmitz, a Batavia Republican, also voted in favor of House Bill 3243.
Sarah Wojcicki, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Tom Cross, said the Republican from Oswego does not support littering but was a “no” vote on the issue. Cross believed the previous language in the state’s litter control act already on the books classified cigarette butts as trash. Most reasonable people would agree that cigarette butts are litter, she said.
“It was an unnecessary bill,” Wojcicki said.
State Rep. Kay Hatcher, a Republican from Yorkville, said she didn’t think the new butt ban would be enforceable or enforced. She voted against the amendment.
“It’s very simple. It’s really hard to legislate stupidity,” she said.
Mike Fortner, a West Chicago Republican, and Bob Pritchard, a Republican from Hinckley, also voted against the measure.
Oberweis said that although he was a “yes” vote, he didn’t think passing the amendment was a good use of the legislature’s time.
“People should be more concerned with our huge financial problems, our pension problem,” Oberweis said. “[By comparison,] this seems pretty insignificant.”