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Columbia Missourian

Motorists urged to be cautious about discarding cigarettes

By Zac Boesch
July 22, 2012 | 3:18 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — With Missouri facing historically dry conditions, the state Highway Patrol urges drivers to take care to properly dispose of their cigarette butts.

Due to drought conditions, the possibility of a brush fire caused by a still-lit cigarette is extremely high. Improperly discarding cigarettes is considered littering and can result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. If a fire results, more criminal charges can be filed. 

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The Indiana State Police have drawn national attention for stepping up enforcement during the drought by threatening to give tickets with fines up to $10,000 for discarded cigarettes. 

Missouri's adult smoking rate ranks among the nations' highest, according to the Missouri Department of Health.

MU's all-out smoking ban will begin July 2013, six months earlier than originally planned. 

The current drought is the most widespread since 1956, leaving 80 percent of the U.S. abnormally dry. Most of Missouri faces severe to extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Recently, Columbia tied its record for most consecutive days of 90 degrees or higher

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