Where there’s smokers, there’s fires (TAS)

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2 December 2014



Tasmanians are being warned of the dangers of littering cigarette butts this bushfire season.

Keep Australia Beautiful and the Tasmanian Fire Service issued the warning as the weather bureau predicted a warmer than normal summer season across most of the country.

Keep Australia Beautiful Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean said it was no secret cigarette butts are public enemy number one when it comes to littering.

“More than seven billion butts are discarded in Australia each year.  If placed end to end they would extend 144,000 kilometres and circle the planet 3.6 times,” Mr McLean said.

“Nationally, thousands of fires a year are caused by cigarettes and smokers’ materials.

“Cigarette butts account for the most amount of rubbish found along our state’s highways.

“Not only are drivers who flick their cigarette butts out the window polluting the environment, they’re also potentially causing dangerous bushfires.

“You may have a licence to drive, but you don’t have a licence to litter.’’

Tasmania Fire Service Chief Officer Mike Brown said every year Tasmania Fire Service is called to fires believed to be caused by discarded cigarette butts.

“Discarding your cigarettes in or around the bush has a potential to cause destructive fires that endanger people’s property and in the worst case, endanger lives,” he said.

The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index 2013/14 recently revealed Tasmania’s smokers are the country’s worst litterers.

“Tasmania recorded the highest number (45) of cigarette butts collected per 1,000m²,” Mr McLean said.

“I’ve had a lit cigarette hit me in the face that was flicked out of a car window before; people are just not getting the message.”

According to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tasmania the Litter Act 2007 addresses littering of cigarette butts through the provisions of general littering and littering associated with a motor vehicle.

Fines start from $130.

To report littering that is associated with a motor vehicle phone 1300 135 513 or report online at www.epa.tas.gov.au.

A high percentage of littering offences reported by the public to the Tasmanian Litter Hotline relate to the littering of cigarette butts from motor vehicles.


Media contact:

Zoe Russell, Sequel PR – (07) 3251 8142 / 0403 090 911

Tasmania Fire Service – John Holloway, Station Officer, State Operations – (03) 6230 8626

About Keep Australia Beautiful: Keep Australia Beautiful is the national peak body on litter prevention. With more than four decades of experience in engaging Australians to care for their local environments, (not to be confused with Clean Up Australia Day) KAB Programs include Sustainable Cities, Tidy Towns, Clean Beaches, National Litter Index, Eco-Schools, Adopt a Patch, and Keep Australia Beautiful Week in August.

The KAB National website is www.kab.org.au where all information on the organisation can be accessed including the National Litter Index, which is Australia’s only independent nation-wide litter research.

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