It's hard to argue with the fact that dropping cigarette butts on the ground in a public place is an act both socially unacceptable and environmentally harmful.
But does it warrant a $500 fine?
Many would argue that discarded cigarette butts, and indeed all forms of littering, should attract much more than a token $60 fine - that the act of dumping rubbish on the ground for others to collect is worthy of severe financial punishment.
To this end, ACT City Services Minister Chris Steel introduced a bill last week to extensively overhaul the territory's littering laws, the first major overhaul of the territory's Litter Act since it was passed 15 years ago.
The law changes, introduced in the Assembly on Thursday, would result in the fine for dropping a cigarette butt rising by almost 10 times from $60 to $500.
Driving with an unsecured load would also attract a fine of $1500, while dropping something small like a lolly wrapper could set you back $150.
The laws are designed mainly to deter people from littering in the first place, while strengthening the government's measures against those who dump rubbish.
Courtrooms and jail cells are filled with people who have landed there because they have failed to pay a fine. More often than not, the failure is due to a simple inability to pay.
The new fines would be introduced on a sliding scale, depending on the size or amount of litter being dropped.
On the face of it, this seems to be a good move; there's plenty of evidence that putting a monetary value on doing the wrong thing can act as a good deterrent. Just look at the drops in smoking rates now that the price of a pack of cigarettes has risen through the roof, or the lower incidence of traffic violations, not least on double-demerit public holidays.
Littering is, for many, a victim-free crime that has little to no effect on a person's immediate wellbeing. But for just as many others, seeing rubbish dumped in public places, or in pristine parkland, is rightfully distressing and frustrating.
It would seem that heavy fines are the only way to stop it happening.
But there's another side to the story when it comes to imposing fines. Courtrooms and jail cells are filled with people who have landed there because they have failed to pay a fine. More often than not, the failure is due to a simple inability to pay.
All fines have the potential to spiral upwards to unmanageable amounts if not paid on time. Jail is the logical endpoint, even if it doesn't seem morally right that a person should be deprived of their liberty for not paying a parking fine.
It's also the case that a significant proportion of Canberra's population might well fall into the category of being unable to pay a fine of $500.
While the simple argument runs that such a person shouldn't have tossed their cigarette butt on the ground in the first place, the fact remains that the fine may well go unpaid.
There is an argument here for graduated fines - fines determined on income. A $50 fine for one person may be the shaming or deterring equivalent of $500 or even $5000 for another. Such a system is already used in parts of Scandinavia, where business executives, for example, routinely incur fines of thousands of dollars for exceeding the speed limit only slightly.
Such a system, while probably difficult to administer, would be one way of ensuring that some of the more vulnerable members of our community are protected from being sent to court, or jailed, for the wrong reasons.