Smokers in Great Yarmouth warned dropping cigarette butts is criminal offence

Library filer dated 1/2/2000 of a cigarette butt. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (Sc

Library filer dated 1/2/2000 of a cigarette butt. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (Scoth) report to Government confrims that second-hand smoke significantly increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease. The pro-smoking lobby and the tobacco industry have disputed claims that passive smoking is a significant danger to non-smokers, but the leaked report by some of Britain's top medical scientists, first published in London's Evening Standard, concluded that 'second-hand smoke represents a substantial public health hazard'. Campaigners Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said that the Scoth report had been handed to the Government four months ago, but Health Secretary John Reid has yet to make the findings public. See PA story HEALTH Smoking. PA photo: Michael Crabtree. - Credit: PA

There has been a sudden increase in complaints about cigarette butts littering the streets of Great Yarmouth.

Nationally an estimated 200 million butts are thrown away ever day and smoking-related rubbish now the UK's biggest litter problems according to Keep Britain Tidy.

And following a rise in complaints over the past four months, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has reminded residents that dropping cigarette ends is breaking the law.

Cigarettes can take up to 12 years to degrade fully and contain chemicals which are damaging to marine life, birds and the environment.

Anyone caught dropping litter, including cigarette butts, can be issued with an on-the-spot fine of up to £80, or prosecuted and fined up to £2,500 in court, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

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Locally, complaints have been about a build-up of butts outside of pubs.

Councillor Val Pettit, the borough council's cabinet member for the environment, said: 'Most smokers are responsible and dispose of their butts in an ashtray, dedicated smoking litter bin, or by extinguishing them underfoot and throwing them in a normal bin.

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'But many, because they wrongly assume cigarette waste is too small to be classed as litter, still drop them ground, where they blight the environment, waste money in clear-up costs and endanger wildlife.

'The council provides adequate public bins around the town, and there are also 'personal ashtrays' on the market to help you dispose of butts whether you are near a bin or not. This is also a reminder to commercial premises themselves, which can have action taken against them if they aren't providing butt bins and/or ashtrays, or cleaning the front of their premises.'

Butts are made of plastic and cellulose acetate which can take up to 12 years to degrade.

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