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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

23 June 2006

National action plan to bin butts

States and Territories have taken up the Australian Government’s challenge to tackle the cigarette butt litter problem by agreeing to develop a national action plan.

“I welcome my colleagues’ commitment to joining our decisive, concerted action against cigarette butt litter,” the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Campbell, said.

Ministers agreed to the day of action at today’s meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council in Sydney.

“Raising public awareness about this problem is essential if we are to tackle the root cause of cigarette butt litter: changing the behaviour of smokers,” Senator Campbell said.

Cigarette butts account for 46 per cent of all litter collected nationally on Keep Australia Beautiful’s National Litter Index. This percentage varies depending on the state or territory litter is collected from, with butts accounting for 38 per cent in South Australia, 42 per cent in Western Australia, 53 per cent in Victoria, 48 per cent in New South Wales and 48 per cent in Queensland.

Australians smoke about 32 billion cigarettes each year. It is estimated that about seven billion butts finish up as litter, releasing hazardous chemicals, including cadmium, lead and zinc, into the environment.

“Cigarette butt litter is a persistent threat to the environment – they can take as long as three years to break down in sea water,” Senator Campbell said.

“I urge all smokers to do the right thing – butts belong in bins, not our bush and beaches.”

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

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