WJBF EXTRA: They're Litter...No If's Ands or Butts - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF EXTRA: They're Litter...No If's Ands or Butts

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As we drive by it's there...the litter piling up too often on the sides of roads. There's no missing it, but sometimes over looked is this tiny trash, cigarette butts.

"I admit I flicked some out, put them on the ground, stepped on them, but they're everywhere. You look around, they all over the ground," said Anthony Economu of Aiken.

"Most people don't. They don't count that as litter, they just automatically just throw it," said Jim Madden.

"I think it's a problem, I think it's inconsiderate. I mean, it's like throwing a piece of trash out of your car," said Travis Forest.

Most, if not everyone, considers bags of fast food to be litter, but those who wouldn't throw something like that on the ground have no problems flicking a cigarette butt.

"Yes it is, it is littering. It meets the definition of littering, and it can be cited. The problem is the officer has to be at that time to witness it," says Teresa Russell, who is the Chief Deputy of the Richmond County Marshal's Office, the department enforcing litter laws. She says catching, those littering cigarette butts isn't easy, but seeing the results of those violating the law is. "Anybody can go to any major intersection and look down and see the problem that it causes," she said.

Intersections like Bobby Jones Expressway and Windsor Spring Road are where hundreds and hundreds of cigarette butts collect in the curb.

"When it rains, that washes into your creek or stream through a storm drain. It doesn't go to the waste water treatment plant, it goes directly to your local stream so every time you throw one of those cigarette butts out of your car or downtown, it goes into a storm drain. It ends up in our waterways," says Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper.

And, downtown is where cigarette butts really pile up. 

You see a lot of cigarette butts downtown because downtown sees a lot of people and smokers like to smoke when they're drinking or enjoying a fine meal and when you're done with a cigarette, what do you do with it?

And, for many smokers downtown, their butts end on the ground, but take a look around and you'll see there isn't a of other places to put them.

"Can you find an ashtray to put one in," we asked one smoker. "No, you can't," he said. "And, if there is no ashtray, where do they end up?" we asked. "On the ground," he said.

"So, I think the next step really is to make sure we have receptacles, especially in the downtown area, to collect these cigarette butts, because if you don't have a place to put them, guess where they're going to go?" says Bonitatibus.

"Do we have enough there now?" we asked. "We certainly do not," she said.

More ashtrays downtown could help keep more butts off the street and out of the river, and so could more smokers like Jim Madden. He had one lit up as he put his boat into the river, but when it was done he put it in his pocket not in the water.

"I was in the army for 20 years, lined up with 50 other guys picking them up til they come out your ears, so it's kind of a habit," he said.

And, not throwing them in the street would be a good habit for smokers to have.

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