Smoke ban could see more butts

NEW bans on smoking in public places could see a massive upsurge in the amount of cigarette-related litter on Suffolk's streets, it was warned today.Keep Britain Tidy campaigners - who are urging councils to launch an education campaign in the wake of a Felixstowe man being fined for throwing down a cigarette end - say the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces and other venues will not stop smoking.

NEW bans on smoking in public places could see a massive upsurge in the amount of cigarette-related litter on Suffolk's streets, it was warned today.

Keep Britain Tidy campaigners - who are urging councils to launch an education campaign in the wake of a Felixstowe man being fined for throwing down a cigarette end - say the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces and other venues will not stop smoking.

It will simply mean more people smoke outside, and throw even more butts, matches and empty packets into the streets, adding to the 120 tons of cigarette-related litter discarded every day.

Sean Collins, 24, of Cricket Hill Road, Felixstowe, was one of the first people in the district to be fined for throwing down a fag end after he was sent a fixed penalty ticket for £60 after a council officer saw him dropping the butt out of his car window and took down the vehicle registration.

The fine was made under new laws helping councils get tough on litter-bugs and fly-tippers, and campaigners are delighted it makes people realise something as small as a cigarette end is still litter.

“This case in Felixstowe is particularly interesting and a good example of how councils can use the new laws to tackle the problems of litter,” said a Keep Britain Tidy spokeswoman.

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“Our concern is next summer when the smoking bans come into force there will be even more people lighting up on the streets and even more litter of this kind - it will rise on a massive scale unless we are prepared for it.

“We need to be taking action now to highlight these problems and to educate people about why they should not throw down cigarette-related litter and provide them with alternative solutions.

“Many smokers we have spoken to want a solution and want to do the right thing.”

She urged councils to stage education campaigns to make smokers aware of their responsibilities and to highlight the new system of fines.

Another positive idea was working with businesses to have bins outside - and also in public places - which could be used by smokers, with a special split top to allow an area for stubbing out.

Pocket-sized fire-proof ash trays could also be provided so smokers take their rubbish home.

Suffolk Coastal cabinet member Andrew Nunn said the council issued the fine to Mr Collins under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

“This council is committed to ensuring that litter does not become a problem in our district - we spend around £600,000 a year cleaning up litter and we know the public support our attempts to maintain the quality of life in our district by cracking down on those who are dropping litter or flytipping,” he said.

WEBLINKS: www.buttsout.co.uk

Should people who drop cigarette ends be fined? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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