April 14, 2009 - Deb Schallert has been on a personal crusade to prevent cigarette litter. Schallert, backed by Oregon Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, is behind House Bill 2676. The half-page bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor to knowingly toss a butt, cigarette or cigar. The penalty would be a fine or, perhaps more [appropriately,] consistent, community service that includes clearing property of cigarettes, cigars and filters "unlawfully deposited on the property."
"I see Oregon as an environmental leader, with the beach bill, with the bottle bill," says Schallert, 56. "I'd like to reach a consensus that (tossing cigarette butts) is not OK. If you're the person cleaning it up, you really notice it." Schallert says she's not out to get smokers. She's hoping for the same change in attitude she's seen among dog owners, who she thinks are much more likely to pick up pet waste in parks and on sidewalks than they were 10 years ago.
This is the third time in five years that Schallert has tried for a cigarette butt bill. Tomei said she thinks the bill has a chance this time around. It's scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, 4/14/2009 in the House environment and water committee. Oregon has a law against "offensive littering" but it doesn't specifically call out cigarette butts.
The Ocean Conservancy, which coordinates cleanups worldwide, says cigarette butts are No. 1 littered item on the globe. Cleanup volunteers picked up 3.2 million in 2008 from beaches and inland waterways.
Reference: Small item, big impact: littered cigarette butts in Oregon by Scott Learn, The Oregonian, 4/12/2009.
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