State Warns Smoking Drivers: Hold On To Your Butts

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – That glowing cigarette butt flying out the car window might be a dangerous thing during a statewide drought. But CBS 11 News learned that few area law enforcement officers are doing anything extra to go after offenders.

The Texas Department of Transportation spent $147,000 on 24 billboards throughout the state this summer, urging residents not to use Texas as their ashtray. But 11 different law enforcement offices told CBS 11 News that they have not stepped up efforts to watch for cigarette littering, or to write up citations for those who are caught in the act.

The citations can reach up to $500 if the cigarette starts a fire.

Butt-tossing offenders may also get a letter and a trash bag from TxDOT, telling them that someone anonymously reported their dangerous actions to the state’s ‘Report a Litterer’ program. Created in 1994, the program sends out about 1,500 letters each month.

A manager with TxDOT told CBS 11 News that the program is focused on preventing any littering before it happens, rather than ensuring that litterers are ticketed by law officers.

Several law enforcement officials said that littering is a difficult ticket to enforce, because offenders must be caught in the act. And most people will not litter when a marked police car is nearby. Plus, at highway speeds, cigarette butt tossing is hard to see.

The number of cigarette butts found on the side of Texas roads has increased 42 percent since 2005. Although, the number of fires started by those butts is only 1.25 percent.

TxDOT is also working with grassroots partner Keep Texas Beautiful to see if there could be a sponsorship program that would provide ashtrays for vehicles, in hopes of stopping people from throwing their cigarette butts out of windows.

You can report a litterer at

More from Jason Allen
  • Rick McDaniel

    They will NOT!

    I see them everyday, on the highway. Flicking their ashes out the window, and then throwing the lit butt out the window.

    When car makers stopped putting ash trays in cars, they caused the wildfire rate to increase dramatically. There are people who only smoke in their cars. No one puts an ash tray in their cars, themselves.

    • Diana Wilson

      Well I do. I’m a smoker and I DO NOT throw my butts out the window. I have a smokeless ashtray hanging on my door and I really wish everyone would use them if they smoke. Not only because of litter but this year especially, because of the drought and fire danger. These people are stupid just throwing their butts out in this environment.

  • frank

    What is the source of your stated statistic that “wildfire rates increased dramatically” when car makers stopped putting ash trays in cars ?
    Or did you just pull that out of your……

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  • Eugene Simpson

    How much would cost to run a dna test on each butt and send them a bill to pay for the fine plus the cost of the dna rsults that will stop a lot of dumping or start filling up the state coffers.

    • sadiedog

      you have to be kidding !!!!!!!!!!

  • Guest

    Great idea Eugene. How about you get started on attaining DNA samples from everyone in the DFW area to create a database and let us know when you’re done. thnx.

  • Sherri Thornhill

    It is a selfish and disgusting act, and law enforcement can and should be writing those tickets. I did.

    • Lips

      You did what?

  • Heather

    I don’t throw them out windows, or empty ashtrays in parking lots. Nor do I leave them on the sidewalk when walking, I put them out and put the butt in my pocket until I find a trash can. When people get in my car I show them the ashtray and ask them to use it. I wish none of us smoked but since we do I’d like us to be considerate about it and do what’s right with our butts.

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