British Columbia

Police chief hands smoker 575 reasons not to throw a lit cigarette from a car

If the potential of sparking a wildfire isn’t enough to keep smokers from tossing cigarette butts out the car window, the hefty fine might be.

Vancouver Island driver issued a $575 fine under the Wildfire Act

On average, 40 per cent of wildfires in the province are human-caused, a category that includes discarded lit cigarette butts. (CBC)

If the potential of sparking a wildfire isn't enough to keep smokers from tossing cigarette butts out of the car window, a hefty fine might be.

Victoria Police Chief Const. Del Manak was cruising down Highway 17 in Saanich, just north of Victoria, on Saturday evening when he saw the driver in front of him discard a cigarette .

The price of such carelessness is a $575 ticket Manak issued under the Wildfire Act for dropping, releasing or mishandling a burning substance.

Manak described the ticket in a recent tweet as "575 reasons to not throw your lit cigarette out the car window."

According to the police chief, the driver tried to justify his actions by pointing to a cupholder in the console and saying he didn't want his car to burn.

Manak didn't buy it and told him not to smoke in his car, in that case.

According to B.C. Wildfire Service, on average 40 per cent of wildfires in the province are human-caused because of factors like dropped lit cigarette butts, open fires or car engines. 

If cigarettes or campfires are found to cause a wildfire, those responsible could be ordered to pay all costs in court. 

This is not the first time Chief Manak has called out people on social media for throwing out their cigarette butts.

Last September, he tweeted his disbelief that drivers are still doing it.

In that case, he issued the driver a $81 fine for littering on top of a speeding ticket.

"Sorry, but I can't ignore it when it happens in front of me," he wrote.


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