SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – After the massive fires in Northern California and now those that continue to scorch Southern California, a Roseville man wants to clean up one potential fire danger for good.

He wants to create a recycling program for cigarette butts. As part of his idea, smokers would have to pay a small deposit per pack but would get the money back when the butts are turned in.

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Cigarette butts litter sidewalks and gutters and roadsides everywhere, but it was on his way home from seeing the devastation of the Wine Country wildfires that Mark Martella had seen enough.

“I saw a person next to me having a smoke and just flicked out the window,” he said.

At that moment, Martella came up with a way to put out this butt of a problem.

“Let’s put a value on the cigarette butts, a nickel per butt, 10 cents.  If we make it valuable, people might think twice before they flick it out the window.”

It’s a recycling program to get butts off the streets, similar to one already in place for bottles and cans.

“You pay for it at the time you get your smokes, you’ll get it back when you get them back in to recycle them,” he said.

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Martella has yet to take his idea to city or state lawmakers, but he has started a petition on to gain momentum.

“Imagine! If California starts this you know some other states are gonna pick it up,” he said.

Other states have already started.  A cigarette butt recycling bill has been introduced in New York state and is now awaiting review from an environmental committee.

“The impact could be huge,” he said.

Martella knows the thought of another tax in California won’t sit well with many, but neither does the thought of this.

“Then you see these fires now in Los Angeles.  Did a cigarette start them?  I don’t know,” said Martella.

It’s a grassroots solution to an unsightly and potentially dangerous problem. Martella says he does plan to take this idea to state lawmakers in the future.

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