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Litter: Smoking

Volume 491: debated on Monday 20 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the smoking ban on the level of tobacco-related litter on streets. (265966)

Each year, DEFRA funds ENCAMS to carry out the Local Environment Quality Survey of England. The results for the seventh survey were published in March 2009 and are available on ENCAMS website at:

Smokers’ materials remain by far the most prevalent item, being present on 78 per cent. of all sites visited. The survey records only the incidence—that is to say the percentage of sites—where each type of litter occurs. It does not attempt to record the volume.

It is not possible to infer what effect the smoking ban in public places has had using this figure alone, but it is worth stating that it is the minority of people who choose to drop litter on the ground—not the smoking ban itself—which is responsible for creating litter.

Powers and duties for dealing with litter are provided by part 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990), as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (CNEA 2005). Dropping any smoking-related litter is a littering offence under section 87 of the EPA 1990. A person found guilty of the litter offence may be fined up to level 4 on the standard scale (currently £2,500) in a magistrates court and section 88 of the EPA 1990 allows an authorised officer of a litter authority to issue fixed penalty notices as an alternative to prosecution in the range of £50 to £80 (set locally).