Laws toughened in NSW for cigarette butt tossers

Michael Weaver 20 December 2019 29
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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