NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (CBS Local) — A Nevada smoker who was fined more than $1,000 for tossing his cigarette onto the side of the road says the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

Eric, who asked that his full name not be used, said he was leaving the Cannery Hotel and Casino in North Las Vegas last week when he tossed a lit cigarette butt onto the side of the road.

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“I’m sorry I’ve been littering for so long, but after 30 years it just becomes automatic,” he told KTNV.

Eric said two North Las Vegas police cruisers “seemingly appeared out of nowhere.”

“They were like pointing at me and saying you what are you doing littering in my city,” he said.

Eric said officers patted him down for weapons before handing him a misdemeanor citation for $1,174.

“I think it’s blatantly out of proportion to the crime,” he said.

Eric, who struggles with a neurological issue and works two jobs, said he did not contest the fine and paid it with a credit card.

“I couldn’t risk my career, working two jobs, I really don’t have time for community service,” he explained.

“The citation was for littering in a public place,” North Las Vegas police said in a statement. “This city ordinance is what helps the community stay clean and to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

Eric says he now uses a smoke proof pouch to dispose of his butts.

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“I worry about the next person, they’ve been doing for 30 years and then they can’t feed their family or pay the rent or something,” he said.