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Drivers Who Smoke Had Better Hold On To Their Butts

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RALEIGH — Cigarette smokers are feeling the heat for two bad habits that go hand in hand.

TheN.C. Department of Transportationis cracking down on drivers who flick cigarette butts out of the car window, and it is asking for your help to swat the smoking litterbugs.

Cigarette butts are pesky little pieces of trash the DOT wants to get rid of, and you can help.

Cigarette butts are a drag for any place trying to get a handle on littering.

"A lot of the letters we read sound like, 'I was behind a motorist and they emptied the entire ash tray.' I think that's when it is noticeable," said Heather Thompson of beautification programs.

The DOT has been keeping track of littering through itsSwat-A-Litterbug Program.

In the last nine months, 900 people have been cited for flipping their cigarette butts somewhere other than an ashtray.

If you find yourself driving behind a cigarette butt-littering motorist, you can fill out a post card supplied by the state that includes the offender's tag number.

If the DOT determines the complaint is valid, the culprit receives a letter in the mail with a few reminders about the financial penalty for littering.

"We've had funny things happen. People who call to say their child was driving the car or people calling to apologize. Also we have people who become defensive, but they've been caught," said Helen Landi of the DOT.