If you think the photograph on our front page today is disgusting, we thought so too. In Harrison County, and elsewhere, smokers are dumping their cigarette butts anywhere and everywhere.
And, as we've found, anywhere and everywhere generally is in the street or on the sidewalk. Our reporter Tina Canon walked from the publishing company on Hewes Avenue to the courthouse the other day and counted 237 cigarette butts on the street.
This is more than just a minor annoyance. It's against the law. Cigarette or cigar butts are considered litter under state law.
"There are some hefty fines that come with littering, even for cigarette butts," said Paul Hamrick, executive director of the Harrison County Solid Waste Authority. "And if caught, you are guilty of a misdemeanor."
Fines for littering can range from $50 to $2,000.
Cigarette littering not only hurts a town's appearance, it also damages the environment -- filters aren't biodegradable -- and littered butts are a fire hazard.
Consider this: The non-profit group Cigarette Litter says 4.5 trillion (that's trillion with a "t") cigarette butts are discarded each year around the world, and they're the most littered item in the United States.
The solution to this problem lies with all of us. If you smoke, think twice about where you discard your butt. If you're a non-smoker, remind your smoking friends what a problem cigarette litter can be.