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Monday 1 October

Scheme to help littering smokers quit launched 

Smokers in Swale who drop their cigarette butts could get a partial refund of their £150 fine if they successfully complete a stop smoking course.

The scheme, a partnership between Swale Borough Council and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT), is being launched during Stoptober, when many smokers try to kick the habit.

Swale council spends around £900,000 cleaning the boroughs streets every year, and approximately three quarters of the items collected are smoking related. In the last financial year, the council issued 1,633 fixed penalty notices for litter across the borough.

From 1 October, anyone issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for dropping smoking related litter can receive a refund of £100 if they successfully complete KCHFT’s free One You Smokefree programme.

The One You Smokefree programme is a six-week course, either in a group or one-to-one with an adviser. Participants receive a personal quit plan and can get nicotine replacement therapy such as patches or gum on prescription for the duration of the course. There are follow-up tests after six and 12 months to show they’ve remained smoke free.

Cllr David Simmons, cabinet member for environment and rural affairs at the council, said:

"We want residents to give up smoking not just for the obvious health benefits, but also to reduce the number of used cigarette butts we have to clean up all across the borough.

"KCHFT offer a brilliant free stopping smoking service, and by working together like this we can improve local people’s health and make our streets cleaner.

"The £100 refund can hopefully act as a nudge for smokers to try to improve their health, and if you don't smoke you won't be dropping cigarette butts for us to clean up!"

Anne Ford, Assistant Director for health improvement at KCHFT said:

"Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your health and reduce your chances of serious illness and premature death.

"We know it can be tough to quit smoking, but the One You Smokefree team is here to help you, every step of the way. We don’t give lectures! Just free support and practical advice. You can even get NRT products such as patches or gum on prescription to help you.

"We are delighted to be working with Swale Borough Council to help people to quit smoking for life."

The One You Smokefree team runs clinics and groups across Kent for anyone who wants to quit smoking. Sixty five per cent of people who use the programme successfully quit smoking, compared to just three per cent who try to quit by going it alone.

For help to go Smokefree contact the One You team on 0300 123 1220, by email or visit their website

Anyone caught dropping litter, leaving graffiti or fly-posting in Swale could be fined £120 under plans being drawn up by Swale Borough Council.

 

The council is proposing raising the maximum fixed penalty notice (FPN) for the offences from their current £80 to £120 after new regulations came into force allowing council’s to increase the fines.

 

The existing £80 level has been in place since 2006, with 1,633 FPN’s issued in 2017/18, and more than 100 people taken to court for non-payment.

 

Any money left over after paying for the costs of the scheme is ring-fenced for environmental projects such as new litter bins, educational programmes and events to deter environmental crime.

 

Cllr David Simmons, cabinet member for environment and rural affairs at the council, said:

 

“The existing level has been in place for more than a decade, and we don’t think it reflects the costs – socially and economically – that these kinds of offences create.

 

“As well as costing council tax payers money to clean up, these offenders make areas feel less welcoming and attractive for local people.

 

“We were tempted to go further, and impose the maximum £150 level, but we have considered factors such as proportionality and affordability. We have aimed for a level that seems to get the balance right.

 

“In the last few years we’ve put in a lot of effort to increase the amount of litter enforcement with extra patrols being carried out.

 

“These are making a difference, but unfortunately there are still a thoughtless minority who believe they can get away with leaving a mess for others to clear up. We strongly hope the threat of increased fines makes them think again.”

 

“Through our local engagement sessions and surveys we know that residents support these ‘on the spot fines’ for anyone caught dropping litter”.

 

The proposals are being discussed by the council’s cabinet on Wednesday, 30 May. If approved, the plans will then need to be agreed by full council on 13 June.

 

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