Residents and law enforcement officers are cracking down on smokers who discard lit cigarettes onto our dry landscape.
After nine years of drought and several days of non-stop smoke from the Willow Fire, tensions are running high. When a motorist sees the person in front of them casually toss that smoking butt on to the roadway, despite the fact that things are burning all around us, it induces a rightful anger.
Every year, fires are put out along highways and the suspected cause is a burning cigarette butt, according to Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi.
We realize not all smokers are mindless and disrespectful of our landscape, but to those who are -- people are watching you and your DNA is on the butt.
Anyone who watches shows like "Forensic Files" or "The New Detectives" knows that cigarette butts are a gold mine of DNA. Smokers should remember that when they toss a burning butt that sparks a fire, their incriminating DNA could be left at the scene. Occasionally butts do survive, unscathed by the fires they cause.
In addition to an arson charge, smokers who toss lit butts can also be cited for criminal littering and/or a federal charge of throwing an ignited object out of a motor vehicle, a class two misdemeanor.
Nicotine is a powerful drug, which is why so many are hooked. Yet proper disposal affects everyone. Now all eyes are on those with their windows open and smoke wafting out. People are watching to see what you do with that butt and the minute they see it hit the pavement or the dirt, someone will get your license plate and report you.
Your car already smells and you are already inhaling the smoke, so what is the sense of putting everyone at risk by rolling down your windows and littering? Some cars still have ashtrays and if they don't, a plastic bottle with water or baking soda works just fine.
Roll up your windows and do whatever you have to do to reprogram the instinct to throw the butt on the ground.
We are all watching -- so don't do it.