Cigarette butts are Scotland’s most common litter

Smoking remains 'most pervasive litter' says report. Picture: PA
Smoking remains 'most pervasive litter' says report. Picture: PA
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CIGARETTE ends are the “most pervasive litter affecting the streets of Scotland”, according to the latest Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) report, released today.

The charity’s 2012-2013 Local Environmental Audit and Management System (LEAMS) for Scotland reveals that discarded cigarette butts in town centres are causing the most concern.

Carole Noble, head of environmental quality at KSB, said: “Smoking litter has become the most pervasive litter affecting the streets of Scotland. Discarding it is unacceptable and illegal.

“We encourage individuals to take responsibility for dropping litter and, in the case of cigarette ends, we remind smokers that there is an on-the-spot fine of £50, which could rise to £2,500 if the case goes to court.”

The LEAMS report collected data on local environment quality and cleanliness from all 32 local authorities in Scotland. KSB’s grading system is based on research into standards of cleanliness which most people regard as being “acceptable” or “unacceptable”. Ms Noble added: “This report indicates that all the local authorities are achieving at least minimum standards.”

The charity said that this year’s report presented modest improvement, although smoking litter remains the most frequently identified litter type. The percentage of sites across Scotland affected by smoking-related litter has fallen from 58 per cent in 2007-08 to 53.9 per cent in the current year.

Approximately 122 tons of cigarette butts and related litter are dropped every day in the UK, the charity revealed. The report said: “It is encouraging this year’s survey shows much of Scotland is free of major litter issues. But many sites still have unacceptable levels of litter; there is an increase in weed growth; and dog fouling and smoking waste persist to the detriment of us all.”

Michael Davidson, chairman of Freedom To Choose (Scotland), which “promotes freedom of choice for businesses, smokers and non-smokers”, said: “I’m very much against people dropping cigarette ends. There is a tendency to class all smokers as one large homogeneous group when we’re not. I think people could carry a small portable ashtray around with them but there are those who will choose just to flick cigarettes into the street.

“A good starting point would be to make sure every bin had an ashtray on top.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Just last week, we announced our intention to bring in tougher fixed penalty fines of £80 from next April, to establish a more effective deterrent. We also consulted on proposals for Scotland’s first national litter strategy.”