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Joint Media Release
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage

24 November 2006

National day to stamp out cigarette butt litter

At the Australian government's urging, States and Territories have agreed to a two-pronged national approach to help stamp out cigarette butt litter.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, said the measure was endorsed at a meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment Ministers in New Zealand today.

"The first prong in the plan is to hold a national day of focused enforcement action on cigarette butt litter in March 2007," Mr Hunt said.

"Local councils and other enforcement agencies will actively issue infringement notices to those caught incorrectly disposing of their cigarette butts," Mr Hunt said.

"There has been strong local government support for this day of action. The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has written to mayors to determine their willingness to participate and so far about 250 have indicated their support.

"The day of action will be held in March which is bushfire season. One cigarette butt has the potential to wreak damage and destruction on the environment and can lead to loss of property and life.

"Australians litter around seven billion butts each year, with the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index showing that cigarette butts make up almost a staggering 50 per cent of litter.

"Cigarette butts have many other detrimental environmental effects. They release hazardous chemicals, including cadmium, lead and zinc, into the environment and can take as long as three years to break down in sea water," Mr Hunt said.

The second prong will be the development of a longer term solution and Ministers have agreed to investigate a number of options which could be used at a national level to reduce cigarette butt litter.

Mr Hunt encouraged all jurisdictions to participate in the day of action and rigorously enforce penalties for littering. He warned cigarette smokers that there would be stiff penalties for littering and urged smokers to dispose of their cigarette butts in bins.

Media contact:
John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596

Commonwealth of Australia