Stop smoking and cut your litter fine
Published: Thursday 23rd October 14
People caught dropping litter will get a voucher to offset their fine if they complete a stop smoking course, the council has announced.
The innovative pilot scheme aims to tackle the problem of cigarette butts littering the pavement, as well as helping to improve the health of borough residents.
People issued with a fixed penalty notice for dropping smoking-related rubbish – such as butts or empty cigarette packets - will get the £30 shopping voucher if they prove they have successfully given up smoking. The scheme is due to start in December.
The council picks up nearly 7,000 tonnes of litter from Wandsworth's streets each year, leaving council tax payers with an annual bill of nearly £4m. In 2013/14, 614 fixed penalty notices were issued – half of which were given to people dropping smoking-related litter in the street.
Regular crackdowns at hotspots such as Tooting Bec and Clapham Junction have caught as many as 22 people throwing butts and cigarette packets on the ground.
The council leads a multi-agency Tobacco Control Alliance that has pledged to reduce smoking by three percent by next year. Since 2010 more than 6,500 smokers have been supported to quit smoking.
Under the new scheme, when a fixed penalty notice is issued offenders will also be sent a letter telling them they can get the £30 voucher if they quit. They will need to sign up for a stop-smoking course commissioned by the council and prove that they have successfully completed it.
To back up the new scheme, pocket ashtrays promoting local stop smoking services will be distributed, litter education exercises will be held across the borough and waste enforcement officers will get tailored training so they can actively promote stop smoking schemes.
Local businesses will be asked to do their bit by promoting stop smoking services and encouraging employees not to drop cigarette buts on the pavement outside.
The pilot scheme will be evaluated before a decision is made on whether to make it permanent.
Cllr Jonathan Cook, the council’s environment spokesman, said: “We believe this new approach will simultaneously help people give up smoking and reduce the amount of smoking-related litter strewn across our streets, which costs council tax payers so much to clear up.”
Health spokesman Cllr Jim Maddan said: “It is vital that our obligation to improve the health of the people of Wandsworth is joined up with the way we provide the rest of our services. We know that 65 per cent of smokers want to quit, but often they don’t know where to turn for help. This scheme will help them find that help.
“Stopping smoking is the single most beneficial thing anyone can do for their health. We won’t force people to sign up for a stop smoking course, but we hope that this £30 voucher will encourage them to take the first step.”
For details of the support available to quit smoking call 020 8812 7794 or 0800 389 7921.