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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

9 June 2006

National no-butts day in pipeline

The Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, will press for a national no-butts day to tackle the growing problem of cigarette butt litter.

“Australians discard about 32 million butts each year. Many of these end up in the environment - to a point where they now contribute to almost half of Australia’s litter,” Senator Campbell said.

“Just because they’re small, doesn’t mean they’re harmless. Discarded butts leach toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and zinc into our soil and waterways when they break down.

“This is not acceptable. If you smoke – do the right thing. Take responsibility for the correct disposal of your butts. Put them in bins, not on the roads and footpaths, the bush or roadsides. It’s just not on.”

Senator Campbell said he would argue the merits of a national crackdown when he met with State and Territory environment ministers at the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in Sydney on June 23.

“A national day would increase public awareness of the problem and help achieve the main change needed – that is, smokers’ behaviour,” he said.

“Some authorities are already taking action to reduce the butt problem.

“The City of Sydney, for example, has been active lately in enforcing fines and warnings for butt litterers, but there seems to be a general reluctance around the country to enforce penalties.

“Smokers are entitled to smoke in permitted places, but they have to accept responsibility for disposing of butts properly – not drop them on footpaths or flick them out of car windows.”

Senator Campbell said entrances to airports were among the dirtiest and most unsightly places for cigarette butts. “It’s not only the litter and general dirty look, but passing through clouds of smoke, particularly at airports, sends all the wrong messages about Australia as a clean, healthy country.”

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield, (08) 9325 4227 or 0409 493 902.

Commonwealth of Australia