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Smoking: Public Places

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 14 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department and its agencies have made of the likely effect of the public smoking ban on levels of cigarette litter in public places. (142252)

Smoking-related litter is one of the most prevalent types of litter. Each of the last three local environmental quality surveys of England showed that smokers’ materials were present on 79 per cent. of survey sites. Without action, the introduction of smoke free legislation in July this year is likely to increase this problem. However, the Government are taking steps to tackle this form of littering through a combination of regulatory options, partnership work, guidance and awareness-raising.

Smoking-related materials were clarified as litter in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, in order to encourage greater enforcement against this offence. Street litter control notices may also be issued by local authorities where there is a significant problem with litter on the street. Notices can be used to place requirements on the occupiers (or owners) of premises to take steps to reduce litter outside their premises, such as the installation of litter bins.

Following a consultation that closed on 8 May, DEFRA is also extending these provisions to allow notices to be issued for eating and drinking establishments where food is consumed on the premises. A legislative opportunity will be sought to extend the list of premises further to include office buildings, aimed particularly at helping to deal with smoking litter dropped by customers and employees. This forms part of a package of tools already available to local authorities for tackling litter problems, including the use of on-the-spot fixed penalty notices for individuals caught dropping litter.

In order to raise public awareness, the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, run by Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS), launched a poster campaign earlier this month to encourage all smokers and businesses to take responsibility for cigarette ends, with posters appearing on bus stops, billboards and telephone boxes across England. A number of councils across the country are supporting the campaign.