CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – If you drop a cigarette on the ground or throw it out the window while driving, you might soon be breaking the law.
Sonny and Jenell Burke have picked up litter on the side of roads for more than a decade and even adopted a few highways near their home.
They say they look out for all kinds of trash, no matter how big or small.
“You bust up a cigarette filter, it looks like trash as well,” Sonny Burke said. “So it all looks the same. It’s unsightly and needs to be picked up.”
Paul Wedel is a junior at Coastal Carolina University. His fraternity, Kappa Sigma, also adopted a highway, cleaning up trash on Singleton Ridge Road in Conway.
Wedel says discarded cigarettes may not be big, but are bad for the environment.
“They aren’t biodegradable and they take a long time to decompose. They’re also a very small thing, so they’re a very easily missed thing.”
The state senate is looking at a bill to define cigarettes as litter with a fine of $25 to $100.
State representative Jeff Johnson of Conway says the bill also changes how litter laws are enforced.
“People don’t mind paying the money as much as they do having to perform community service,” Rep. Johnson said.
The Burkes say they want this bill to help people realize every piece of trash adds up.
“We hope it will help just to get people aware if it’s cigarette butts, as small as they are, think about all the other trash,” Jenell Burke said.
Currently, littering for trash under 15 pounds carries a $200 to $500 fine.
The state senate is expected to discuss the cigarette littering bill Thursday.