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Campaign to end cigarette butt litter

Campaign to end cigarette butt litter

A campaign to reverse an unforeseen effect of the three‐year‐old ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants has begun, as cigarette butts increasingly litter the country’s drinking areas. The Keep New Zealand Beautiful Society has begun a two‐month‐long campaign to remove unsightly butts from Wellington’s café and bar area around Courtenay place, intending to take the campaign progressively nationwide next year.

KNZB’s CEO, Barry Lucinsky, says, “We provide litter bins for litter so we have to started providing ways for smokers to dispose of their butts cleanly.”

Mr Lucinsky says it struck him as odd that some local councils provide litter bins for the cardboard packets in which cigarettes are sold but not all provide for butts. “You can throw away a cigarette packet ok in any of the provided bins. But the contents, they end up on the street,“ he says. Mr Lucinsky says when litter counts are held, cigarette butts pop up as about 48% of the items gathered. He says this figure is pretty consistent world‐wide. A litter count involves designating an area and gathering the litter and classifying it.

He says the message his society will be promoting is: “Bin it, don’t biff it.” The trial is providing cigarette bins around Courtenay Place, installing them on the streets outside cafes and bars.

Mt Lucinsky says most of the butts ends up in storm water drains. As a measure of success for the trial, he’s expecting council monitoring of the rubbish swept down through the storm water system will show a dramatic fall in the number of butts.

KNZB recently recruited about 900,000 volunteers for its Clean Up New Zealand Day and Mr Lucinsky promises the same energy and organisational skills will be brought to bear on this campaign.

“No one likes treading on all these butts littering the place. It’s ok to blame smokers and maybe even tobacco companies and whoever, but we’re not placing blame – we’re trying to sort the problem.”

Mr Lucinsky says he’s attracted support from the tobacco industry, Environment Minister, David Benson‐Pope and Wellington Mayor, Kerry Prendergast.

He says when lessons from the trial have been learnt, KNZB will offer it to Chambers of Commerce and local government right across New Zealand.

Ends.

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