OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - At the East Beach home of Dempsey Levi, visitors are always welcome. Cigarette butts are not.
In the past two days, he's picked up a handful of butts in front of the home. One that was tossed out of a passing car on Father's Day caught the grass around this house piling on fire. The bottom of the piling was charred and had to be replaced.
Levi is fed up.
"We need to stop cigarette butts," Levi said. "We need to have people keep them in their car. If they like smoking so much, they need to keep those cigarettes in their car, and don't throw them on the street."
Levi wants more anti-litter signs placed throughout the city. City leaders are listening, and have asked for more input from city employees.
"Bring something to us to tell us what's available, what kind of signage, what it looks like, where would be the best place to put it and how to enforce it," Alderman Greg Denyer said. "It's one thing to put up a sign, it's another thing to enforce it too. And that's what we need to do if we're going to have a rule."
Levi couldn't agree more.
"I hope that they will start enforcing the law that says you do not litter in our city."
Currently, violating the city's litter ordinance is a misdemeanor. And while it's well intentioned and imposes a stiff $300 fine for violators, it is very difficult to enforce.
"As a law enforcement officer, if I witness someone littering, then I can cite that person for that offense," said Lt. John Flowers with the Ocean Springs Police Department. "But unless it occurs in my presence, I can't take action against the offender for littering."
Taking action in any form would please Dempsey Levi, and help his crusade to snuff out an ugly and potentially dangerous problem.
City leaders say they are also concerned about cigarette butts igniting wildfires during a time of extreme drought.