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

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2 December 2014



New South Wales residents are being warned of the dangers of littering cigarette butts this bushfire season.

Keep Australia Beautiful and NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) issued the warning as the weather bureau predicted a warmer than normal summer season across most of the country and a current high to very high fire danger for central parts of New South Wales.

It also comes after the NSW Government announced smoking is to be banned in NSW national parks from 1 January 2015.

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.

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

NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said discarding cigarette butts, including from moving vehicles, can start fires that potentially put life and property at risk.

“So far this season we have already seen hundreds of fires started by a variety of causes, including fires that have destroyed homes, so what we don’t need is people carelessly discarding cigarettes that could potentially add to this tally,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

“Our volunteers tell me they are increasingly frustrated that some motorists continue to toss cigarettes out the car window.

“I am asking people to think about the consequences of their actions, to be responsible and help prevent fires.”

According to the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index 2013/14, the number of cigarette butts found in New South Wales is 20 butts per 1,000m².

“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,” Mr McLean said.

The NSW Government recently doubled fines for discarding lit cigarettes to $660 — $1320 if caught on a Total Fire Ban day.

Members of the public can report cigarette butt tossers via www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or by calling the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 NSW RFS (1800 679 737).

Anyone who sees an unattended fire should immediately call Triple Zero (000).


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

NSW RFS State Duty Media Officer – (02) 9898 1855

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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