The Parish of St. Helier is offering smokers free pouches in a bid to make them bag their butts and keep the town centre clean.
The harmful health effects of smoking might be well-known, but a new campaign is aiming to highlight the environmental problems they can also cause, such as releasing toxins into water and harming marine life.
As part of the campaign, signs reminding islanders that "cigarette buds are litter too" will be displayed on the parish's road sweeping vehicles, while special pouches will be provided free to smokers and gum chewers to make sure their litter is disposed of responsibly.
Pictured: The type of butt pouch 'mini bin' being offered by the parish to smokers and gum chewers.
Butt pouches will be available from the Town Hall’s reception area, in a bid to reduce the number of butts that end up in drains.
St. Helier is also encouraging businesses to provide ashtrays outside their premises, as well as small stainless steel cigarette bins. There is also an opportunity for businesses to sponsor a number of litter bins which have stubbing plates on top with a large ashtray underneath.
Cigarette butts contain cellulose acetate – a form of plastic that can take up to twelve years to degrade. The butts leak toxins that contaminate water, harming marine life and the environment. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food.
More pertinent for the town centre, they're also detrimental to the look of streets, parks, car parks and beaches when left as litter by smokers. Parish officials say that butts are the most common type of litter, impacting on the public’s perception of an area and leading to a time-consuming clean-up due to the butts being small and getting trapped in cracks and grates on the ground.
The campaign comes after many islanders raised the alarm about the amount of cigarette butts that end up in drains. One of them was Sheena Brockie, of the Good Jersey Life and Plastic Free Jersey, who said she was "frustrated beyond belief at the amount of cigarette butts on the streets and down drains right now".
"Straight to the Ocean - that’s where they’re going and most people don’t realise that these contain plastic which is causing issues on a global scale, as well as enormous amounts of toxins," she wrote on social media, encouraging people to leave butts out of the streets and drains.
As well as having a positive environmental effect, the campaign may have a benefit for some islanders' pockets. Parish officials said that many people do not realise that their cigarette butts count as litter, which means that throwing them in the street can attract a find of up to £500 for as an offence under the ‘Policing of Roads (Jersey) Regulations 1959'.
This latest campaign comes as St. Helier's Roads Committee this morning considers the results of a consultation into whether the parish should put an end to al fresco smoking areas.
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