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Port Phillip Council 'sticks its head in the sand' with proposed ban on beach smoking

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Port Phillip CouncilPort Phillip Council is considering banning cigarettes and glass on beaches to avoid “cuts and butts” on beaches from Elwood to Garden City. Smokers or people with glass bottles would be fined.

Mayor Frank O’Connor said cigarette butts made up a large proportion of litter cleaned from the beach and had made the beaches less welcoming. “It’s not about passive smoking, but the substantial amount of litter cigarette butts cause,” Cr O’Connor said. “The quality of the sand is important.”

It is estimated that up to 350,000 butts end up in Port Phillip Bay and waterways every day.

"Mayor O'Connor is correct when it comes to the issue the issue of litter on beaches and the importance of maintaining clean sand on beaches" said No BuTTs Managing Director, Jack Jacobson. "But all this proposed beach smoking ban will do if implemented is shift the problem of cigarette butt litter 100 metres away to the road or carpark where smoking is not prohibited - and any smokers that have actually bothered to abide by the ban and may have littered their butts on the beach will most probably litter their butts there."

"Also, everyone knows that littering is illegal. The reality is that any smokers that choose to ignore this fact, and break littering laws will most likely also ignore other laws that ban smoking on beaches."

"We think that the fine for any littering should be doubled, tripled or even raised to a fine of $1,000. That would definately get people's attention - and would probably help eliminate littering overnight - but with regard to cigarette butt littering we believe that it would be far more productive to combine this enforcement with educating smokers and assisting them with a permanent solution to their butt littering. Prevention is always better than the cure."

Where do you think these butts are going to end up?
"Making this proposal even more ridiculous is the fact that any butts littered off - but near the beach will simply end up back on the beach by way of stormwater drains and the wind - so the sad reality is that this proposed ban achieves nothing."

"Additionally, most of the butts that end up on the beach weren't actually littered on the beach. They enter via stormwater drains from all over the city and then float down to the nearest out-fall pipe in the Yarra River or directly into Port Phillip Bay. Once they hit the water, it's inevitable that they'll end up on some beach somewhere."

There is currently no smoking ban on Bayside’s beaches. Council officers are investigating the impact the bans would have and councillors will vote on whether or not to introduce the ban this year. The council is yet to decide any possible fine amount.

Albert Park MP Martin Foley said cigarette butts accounted for 13 per cent of the rubbish collected on Port Phillip beaches in 2009. "A staggering” 47 per cent of all rubbish could have been recycled in residential recycling bins, Mr Foley said.

"So what?" said Jack. "Martin's figures are meaningless. What does he suggest happens or should have happened to the other 53 per cent of beach litter? Any litter is unacceptable but if Council really wanted to address the issue of cigarette butt litter, they could actually eliminate the problem in a week - by requiring smokers on the beach to carry a personal ashtray -  but suggesting a ban on beach smoking is unproductive, ineffective and a misguided way to go about it." 

It's easy to do the right thing with your butts - wherever you go!
Pocket, Personal & Portable ashtrays eliminate cigarette butt litter."The fact is that virtually all litter is avoidable. You can't really do much about paper that blows out of someone's mailbox in Altona and ends up on St Kilda Beach, but rather than simply transfering the problem of cigarette butt litter from the beach to 100 metres away from the beach, we think it makes more sense for councils to educate smokers about the environmental effects of cigarette butt litter, and the possible fines that could result from their littering - whilst at the same time assisting them to eliminate their cigarette butt litter once and for all and wherever they smoke - by distributing personal ashtrays - like over 1,000 other Councils, Shires, National Parks and Govt Departments around the world do."

"Let's put it like this. If Councils can legislate to require dog walkers to always carry a small plastic bag to pick up Rover's poop - and actually provide them to dog owners via mail and by way of poop bag dispensers in parks and on the beach - as 100s of councils already do, it's only a small step in the same direction to require smokers to always carry a personal ashtray wherever they go - and make them freely available at the same locations or via council offices and Town Halls." 

Don't stick your head in the sand. 
Your smokers are still going to smoke regardless of any smoking policy.
"Can you imagine the howls of laughter if ski resorts proposed to 'ban smoking on the mountain' to eliminate cigarette butt litter? It would be totally unenforcable - and it will be the same for beaches too."

"Pardon the pun, but rather than sticking their head in the sand, it would be far more effective and sustainable for councils to educate smokers and help them do the right thing with their butts - just like Falls Creek, Thredbo Resort and over 1,000 other Local Government Departments and National Parks around the world do - by distributing personal ashtrays together with an info flier on the issue of cigarette butt litter and its damaging effects on the environment."

With the assistance of Local Government participants around the planet, everyday 1,000s of smokers are discovering Personal Ashtrays for the first time - and changing their littering habits forever.

Sydney’s Manly Council banned smokers from lighting up on the beach in 2004, fining smokers $200. To date there has not been a single prosecution.

Hobart City Council last month announced it was banning smokers from its malls and on footpaths.

  By No BuTTs, Port Phillip Council, Leader Newspapers [31st May 2010]

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