20,000 are hit with cigs butt fines

MORE THAN 20,000 smokers have been fined £1.6m for dropping their fag ends in Glasgow.

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Smokers are the most likely people to be fined for littering with 20,000 fines handed out for dropping cigarette butts
Smokers are the most likely people to be fined for littering with 20,000 fines handed out for dropping cigarette butts

Startling new figures show TWENTY times as many people were fined for dropping cigarette butts as for litter.

A total of 20,401 smokers were fined £80 each - compared to just over 1400 who dropped litter, and 54 who threw chewing gum on the ground.

The Freedom of Information figures obtained by the Evening Times, from January 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, show the cigarette fines were given to 11,884 men, and 8513 women. Most were young people, aged 18 to 30.

Simon Clark, director of Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, said he believed the figures showed smokers were being discriminated against.

He said: "The reason smokers have been forced outside is the smoking ban and they are extremely visible.

"Therefore, they are easier to target because they tend to stand outside entrances to buildings. People throwing chewing gum or street wrappers are usually on the move so they are harder to target."

He said FOREST would never condone littering and always encouraged smokers to use cigarette bins. The figures were the first he had heard of that showed such a large proportion of smokers being fined for littering, and he said FOREST would look into it.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson, who is also chairman of Clean Glasgow, said they would not tolerate littering in "any form."

Councillor Matheson said: "It is dirty, antisocial and completely unnecessary. We cannot, and will not, tolerate it.

"Through the Clean Glasgow campaign, and our excellent partnership with the Evening Times' Streets Ahead initiative, we aim to change people's habits by making it clear that irresponsible behaviour is unacceptable."

He said the fines came after "a sustained campaign" against all forms of littering in the city, which had taken the form of both education and enforcement. He said no one group was targeted.

"People hate littering as it has a very negative impact on how they view their city, their street or even their own close," he added.

"The majority of Glaswegians and visitors are respectful of other people and bin their litter. However, those that don't must, and will, face the consequences."

ASH Scotland Chief Executive Sheila Duffy said it was disappointing to see so many fixed penalty tickets related to tobacco rubbish.

"Litter from smoking is the most common type of rubbish on the streets of Scotland," she said.

"We know the medical damage caused by smoking is as huge drain on our healthcare budget. Tobacco use is also very expensive in terms of clean-up costs and fines as well."

Keep Scotland Beautiful launched a Bin Your Butts campaign earlier this year to crackdown on smoking related litter, which they said affected half of all streets.

A spokesman said: "Smoking litter can easily become trapped between paving stones and be washed into drains causing blockages and flooding."

The Evening Times has been championing a Streets Ahead campaign for the past three years which recognises the huge efforts community groups and individuals make to transform their local areas, through clean-ups, planting, and new community gardens.

With the support of our partners - Clean Glasgow, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Glasgow Housing Association, City Charitable Trust and ScotRail - we helped people in every part of the city improve their streets, gardens and parks. The fourth Streets Ahead campaign is due to get under way soon.

Victoria.Brenan@eveningtimes.co.uk

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