No butts, or you're nicked

SMOKERS will be handed hefty on-the-spot fines if they are caught throwing cigarette butts on to city streets.

Melbourne City Council will fine smokers up to $200 as part of a campaign to reduce the number of butts strewn on CBD streets and footpaths. Twelve council officers will concentrate on smoking hot spots around office blocks, government buildings and cafe districts.

Flicking a lit butt will attract the maximum fine. Smokers caught discarding an extinguished cigarette will be fined $100.

They can also be fined up to $6000 by courts.

Elizabeth St, the ANZ tower on Collins St, Casselden Place and RMIT University on Swanston St are among trouble spots to be patrolled by officers, who will wear uniforms of khaki trousers and a navy blue top. The crackdown follows a three-month trial in which by-laws officers handed out information leaflets instead of fines.

Council environment spokeswoman Kate Redwood said the tactic had not stopped smokers turning streets into an eyesore.

"I think it's carelessness and a lack of responsibility for what is essentially a dirty habit,"Cr Redwood said.

"We have given people plenty of notice that we expect them to be responsible citizens."

Councillor Kimberley Kitching said: "City residents are sick and tired of wading through cigarette butts on the way to work."

Cr Redwood said the introduction of smoking bans in cafes, restaurants and buildings had caused an increase in cigarette butts on streets.

"It has meant people who have smoked have had to smoke in the open and so they tend to stand around in doorways and just throw away the cigarette,"Cr Redwood said.

In April, the council installed 100 pole-mounted butt bins in trouble spots, adding to the 992 street litter bins and 46 butt bins already in the city.

The MCC said 50 per cent of litter it collected was from cigarettes, including cellophane wrapping, foil inserts and butts.

The EPA said it fined 1074 people for throwing litter from cars in the City of Melbourne this financial year. About 96 per cent of the fines related to cigarettes.

By MICHELLE ROSE, urban affairs reporter
17 June 2003

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