Savannah officials cracking down on discarded cigarette butts

SAVANNAH -- Butt flingers, beware.

The city of Savannah is taking exception to your nasty habit of tossing cigarette butts wherever you please. On Wednesday, officials announced a multi-pronged effort to first educate, then later enforce anti-litter efforts against smokers.

"We're going to find the guilty folks and try to persuade them to do what they need to do, and if they won't, we're going to go to the next step," said Mayor Otis Johnson at a news conference.

Mr. Johnson noted that as he arrived for the meeting with reporters, he found the parking area behind City Hall littered with cigarette butts.

City ordinances allow for fines of up to $110 for littering, city spokesman Bret Bell said. But officials will set a lower fine for cigarette litter - probably about $50.

Mr. Johnson, Alderman Tony Thomas and other city leaders were joined at the news conference by the city of Tybee Island's anti-litter mascot, Nas-T-Butt, who offered a visual display of the accumulative effect of abandoned butts: a clear plastic bag about one-third full of discarded butts collected on River Street in a single day.

Lise Sundrla, executive director of the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority, said her staff quickly discovered the extent of the problem when they joined the city effort. In one two-hour period on four corners of Broughton Street, staffers picked up more than 4,000 cigarette butts, she said.

Installing cigarette receptacles cut that number by more than half when staffers surveyed the corners about a month later, she said.

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