Smokers who toss cigarette butts out vehicle windows not only face a littering fine up to $500, they also could pose a fire risk to someone’s home and property.
Nearly the entire state is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, and drivers who litter cigarette butts put the state at risk for wildfires.
The Texas Department of Transportation, which manages the state’s Don’t Mess with Texas litter prevention campaign, is addressing the wildfire threat by putting the same message on 21 Don’t Mess with Texas billboards across the state: "Texas is not your ashtray."
Additionally, Don’t Mess with Texas and TxDOT will use social media to focus on preventing tobacco litter among their combined 20,000 followers.
"Not only is littering against the law, it’s a public safety issue," said Brenda Flores-Dollar, program administrator for TxDOT’s Travel Information Division. "Don’t Mess with Texas urges smokers year-round to keep their cigarette butts in their car and dispose of them properly. It’s even more important during this worsening drought."
According to the latest Visible Litter Study (NuStats, 2009) commissioned by TxDOT, tobacco trash, including nearly 400 million cigarette butts, made up the majority of litter (43 percent of the 1.1 billion pieces of trash) on Texas roads in 2009. The campaign’s Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study (Stadia, 2009) found that smokers who litter cigarette butts are more likely than nonsmokers to litter other items. Six in 10 (62%) Texans who smoke admit they or someone they were with threw butts out the window of a vehicle.