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Laws toughened in NSW for cigarette butt tossers

Michael Weaver 20 December 2019 30
Cigarette butt

Lit cigarette butts have caused many grass and bushfires. Photo: File.

Fines for tossing cigarette butts in the ACT were toughened in October, but remain well short of the fines being introduced in NSW which has declared war on tossers.

Motorists caught discarding a lit cigarette from a car in NSW from 17 January 2020 face heavy fines and the loss of five demerit points, the first time a demerit point penalty has been imposed on this type of offence.

If a motorist commits the offence during a total fire ban, the penalty will double to 10 demerit points and a fine of up to $11,000.

Penalties will also apply to passengers caught tossing a lit cigarette on or near the roadway. They will be fined $660, which will double during total fire bans.

So far in 2019, more than 200 people have been caught tossing a lit cigarette out of a vehicle in NSW.

NSW Rural Fire Service Association president Brian McDonough welcomed the government’s move to crack down on fire starters.

“This reckless behaviour puts the safety of firefighting volunteers at risk,” Mr McDonough said. “I hope this makes people think very carefully about the consequences of their actions next time they go to discard a lit cigarette.”

In the ACT, new laws were introduced on 22 October to deal with people caught littering and illegally dumping. The new laws also include increased fines for people tossing cigarette butts.

The previous fine for littering of any kind, including cigarette butt littering, was a $60 on-the-spot fine.

The new laws see the fines escalate to $500 if you’re caught dropping items like a cigarette or a syringe.

ACT Policing has also reminded people of the risks of tossing cigarette butts out of cars.

“Starting a fire from a discarded lit cigarette can cost you $16,000,” ACT Policing said via social media today (20 December).

Minister for City Services Chris Steel said the new aggravated littering offence sends a strong message to the community about the impact of these items on the city.

“Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on the planet, and have a significant impact on the environment releasing toxic chemicals and microplastics,” Mr Steel said.

“With a hotter and drier climate, cigarettes present a real fire risk to our bush capital, with 13 per cent of grass fires in the ACT started by cigarettes.”

To report someone who has thrown a lit cigarette out the window of a vehicle, contact the NSW Rural Fire Service hotline on 1800 679 737.

In the ACT, people can report littering offences via Access Canberra.


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30 Responses to Laws toughened in NSW for cigarette butt tossers
Howie Grace Howie Grace 10:07 pm 22 Dec 19

Maybe not the increase in fines so suddenly. Definitely educate. But also police litterers. It would be so easy to catch ciggy litterers with a concerted effort in known trouble spots. Educate first with a small fine and community service to collect butts in known trouble spots. Once you realise how gross they are in the environment that should deter littering and maybe even smoking.

Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 8:56 pm 22 Dec 19

I am a smoker, have done for 40 odd years and I always put them out in the ashtray in my car that still has one. Otherwise a bottle with water in it! Don't blame the cigarette, blame the idiot holding it.

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 9:56 pm 21 Dec 19

Start taking these things more seriously!

Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 8:19 pm 21 Dec 19

Hand out ashtrays or install them

Amanda Adams Amanda Adams 7:08 pm 21 Dec 19

Why on earth is Canberra ,not giving out a bigger fine ,it won’t deter these irresponsible humans 😡😡just makes these morons think it isn’t that bigger deal 😡😡

Susan Ann Margaret Susan Ann Margaret 7:00 pm 21 Dec 19

Saw a guy yesterday flicking the ash off his smoke 😱 he didn’t throw it out the window but the end could of come off flick it in a jar of water in the console no need to have it out the window at all in this weather

Jane Harvey Jane Harvey 4:18 pm 21 Dec 19

All I can say is good GoOd GOOd & GOOD.

Daniel Howell Daniel Howell 4:10 pm 21 Dec 19

Should be introduced in every state

Jeanette Donovan Jeanette Donovan 3:36 pm 21 Dec 19

Ban cigarettes for health reasons too.

Suzanne Garnett Suzanne Garnett 3:33 pm 21 Dec 19

Why is it that smokers consider the world their ashtray?

Michael Awwad Michael Awwad 3:25 pm 21 Dec 19

How are cigarettes still legal in 2019/20? It’s so disgusting, dangerous and pointless 😱

Dane Roberts Dane Roberts 3:01 pm 21 Dec 19

Surely with the health and fire risks, the time has come to simply ban smoking inside cars? It'd be a lot easier to enforce too

    James Pitman James Pitman 3:37 pm 21 Dec 19

    Dane Roberts all I ever see is butts out the window.

    Dane Roberts Dane Roberts 3:39 pm 21 Dec 19

    James are you still talking about cigarettes? 😂

    Kat Marie Kat Marie 4:05 pm 21 Dec 19

    Dane Roberts Right? Plus, it's ridiculous that things like using a mobile phone are (rightfully) banned for being distracting - yet smoking apparently isn't?

Caroline Le Couteur Caroline Le Couteur 3:00 pm 21 Dec 19

The problem is education and enforcement - not the level of fines. I asked a question on notice in the Assembly and Minister Steel has responded saying, there have been no fines issued for littering in the last three years, which I find astounding.

    Bill Gemmell Bill Gemmell 7:13 am 24 Dec 19

    Caroline Le Couteur seeing the government is unwilling or unable to enforce most of its statutes, maybe it is time they started paying a spotter's fee for any reported infringements that result in a penalty being issued?

Alex O'Petryk Alex O'Petryk 2:46 pm 21 Dec 19

how this will be enforced? 5 million cars and only 200 fines in 2019? statistics are grim... bigger fines won't solve the problem.

Tracey M Benson Tracey M Benson 2:32 pm 21 Dec 19

how about just quit smoking?

Peter Mills Peter Mills 2:24 pm 21 Dec 19

Yep, just like the two truck drivers I have witnessed in last few weeks flicking butts out, both were going other way or my dash cam would have got them, next time lucky.

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 2:06 pm 21 Dec 19

Looking through these comments I can't believe how light people are willing to go. Say we burn them at the stake.

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 7:13 pm 21 Dec 19

    Rob Thomas : A good option you have presented!!! 😂🔥😂🔥😂

Jane Skillicorn Jane Skillicorn 1:20 pm 21 Dec 19

Gaol for life....such idiots are not fit to be free.

Suzanne Milne Suzanne Milne 1:19 pm 21 Dec 19

catching them in the act is the difficult part

Gerry Gageldonk Gerry Gageldonk 1:12 pm 21 Dec 19

I was a smoker and tossed butts everywhere ..not out of the car though ..We have to have laws like in Singapore..on the spot fines for dropping butts in the street ..We have to change the attitude!

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