Smokers kick the littering habit

Monday, 31 July, 2006

Seven cities are creating a Butt Free Australia by reducing cigarette butt littering in their CBDs by an average of almost 18%.

Over 12,000 pledges were also received from smokers prepared to acknowledge the Butt Free City "Please Butt It, Then Bin it' environmental message. Cigarette butts top the national littler ladder "” on average, butts make up 46% of the litter stream by number according to Keep Australia Beautiful.

Butt Free City week campaigns were run in Adelaide (SA), Canberra (ACT), Darwin (NT), Greater Geelong (Vic), Hobart (Tas), Townsville (Qld) and Willoughby (NSW) in late March. Local councils in partnership with the Butt Littering Trust and others spearheaded the one-week litter prevention effort.

"The simple fact of the matter is that smoking bans in buildings and hospitality areas have the unintended consequence of increased butt litter that impacts on the environment," said Trust Chairman Ian Coles. "This needs to be addressed proactively and quickly.

The recent Butt Free City campaigns involved public awareness through education teams, over 12,000 face-to-face discussions, improved infrastructure and the use of information cards and personal ashtrays.

Several hotspots were monitored in each city before and after the street activity to test the effectiveness of the campaign.

"Butt litterers appear to be sympathetic to the environmental message once they are aware of the issues. The figures only support the activity of the teams, while many more people would have been influenced by the advertising and promotion during the week," said the chair.

Willoughby City Council recorded a 36% reduction in butt litter in the CBD; Hobart City Council 25%; Darwin City Council 23.3%; City of Greater Geelong 22%; Townsville City Council 9%; Adelaide City Council 8%; and ACT Urban Parks & Places 2%. The average reduction was 17.9%.

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