Smokers: Take control of litter

Councillor Mary Wilkinson at one of the cigarette disposal receptacles.
Councillor Mary Wilkinson at one of the cigarette disposal receptacles. Mike Knott

THERE are no butts about it - Bundaberg's smokers have to start taking responsibility for cleaning up after themselves.

With Queensland named last week as the state most littered with cigarette butts in mainland Australia, Bundaberg Regional Council health and environmental services portfolio spokeswoman Mary Wilkinson said it was time smokers took some responsibility for their mess.

Standing outside a venue that had been the scene of a function on Saturday night, Cr Wilkinson pointed to the dozens of cigarette butts on the ground.

“If these are left where they are every single one of these butts will end up in a river and eventually the sea,” she said.

“The council can't walk behind people 24 hours a day and watch what they do with their butts.”

Cr Wilkinson said the council did what it could to clean up after litterers, although she was unable to estimate the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts.

Early in the mornings council street sweepers are out in the CBD sweeping up the litter, including a large number of cigarette butts, deposited by late-night revellers.

Twice a year high-pressure steam cleaners are deployed to clean up the butts caught in the gaps in brick pavers on footpaths in the CBD.

“People have the privilege of being able to smoke, but they have to take some responsibility for their litter,” Cr Wilkinson said.

Cr Wilkinson's comments came as Cancer Council Queensland's director of public affairs Anne Savage said bans on smoking in public places would help to reduce litter.

“Sadly, Queensland has one of Australia's highest prevalence rates of smoking and one of Australia's highest rates of cigarette litter,” she said.

“Tragically, we lose nearly 3500 lives each year to tobacco-related disease and our cigarette litter is choking our waterways and oceans.”

Cr Wilkinson said she would endorse laws on smoking in public places.

“The problem is who would enforce it,” she said.

“The state government puts legislation like this in place then hands it to local governments to carry out.”

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