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The butt stops here: Council targets cigarette litter

Cigarette litter in some of the worst affected areas in Douglas has been reduced by some 90 per cent after Douglas Borough Council’s borough warden team targeted 12 hotspots in the town centre. 


CigaretteEndsimages MediumIn December 2012 the team identified then monitored the sites over a period of three and a half months a minimum of once a day, on each occasion counting the number of cigarette ends deposited. The wardens also collaborated with the Borough Engineer’s street cleansing section to explore ways of discouraging cigarette ends being dropped.





A combination of measures - relocating waste bins, cleansing of hotspots and liaising with smokers and businesses at each location - resulted in surveys between late December 2012 and the end of April 2013 revealing a reduction of approximately 90 per cent in cigarette litter across all 12 hotspots.  Survey evidence also suggested that the regular presence of a uniformed borough warden had acted as a deterrent to would-be offenders.


Four hotspots have now been closed, although they continue to be monitored, and four new sites will be identified. Those hotspots remaining open but showing only smaller improvements will continue to be targeted and subject to additional reduction measures. Interventions being considered include redesigning waste bins to encourage responsible cigarette end disposal and, if required, issuing Litter Control Notices to offending businesses or fixed penalty notices to offending smokers.  In particular, smokers using ashtrays on the tops of bins are requested to make sure they dispose of the butt fully through the holes in the ashtray to prevent it from being blown onto the ground.


RitchieMcNicholl Medium'A dropped cigarette end, no matter how small, is still litter' says Councillor Ritchie McNichollEnvironmental Services Advisory Committee lead member Councillor Ritchie McNicholl said:  ‘This collaboration between the borough warden team and the cleansing section has produced outstanding results. An overall reduction of 90 per cent in cigarette litter is extremely encouraging and all those involved are to be congratulated. Clearly there is potential to build on this success.


‘A dropped cigarette end, no matter how small, is still litter. Discarding cigarette ends in the street is an offence attracting a minimum £50 fixed penalty notice rising to a maximum fine of £2,500.


‘Streets blighted by litter send out a negative message. At a time when town centres are struggling to attract consumers and new business the Council is determined to tackle any irresponsible and antisocial behaviour that might deter customers, visitors and investors and ultimately damage the town’s economy.’


Council Leader Councillor David Christian JP added: ‘Despite these encouraging few DavidChristian MediumCouncillor David Christian: 'Litter’s not “someone else’s” problem, it’s everyone’s problem'wins, the Council is in no way becoming complacent. Quite the reverse; these results only increase our resolve to look at how, with the limited resources at our disposal, we can tackle the problem.


‘We’ve seen a dramatic rise in cigarette litter since the ban on smoking in public places came into operation. The solution doesn’t lie with the Council alone, however. There needs to be a radical change in attitude and a heightened sense of civic pride. Litter’s not “someone else’s” problem, it’s everyone’s problem and demands a community response if we are to create a cleaner urban environment.’