MORE than 90 per cent of fines issued in Bournemouth last year were for people dropping cigarette butts.

Of the 1,660 fixed penalty notices handed out in 2017/18, 1,495 were smoking related, according to figures made public at Tuesday’s meeting of Bournemouth council.

The figures were revealed by the council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr David Smith, who said that the council uses a combination of education and enforcement to try and reduce littering in the town.

Littering of cigarette ends was raised by Cllr Simon Bull who asked Cllr Smith what was being done to tackle the problem.

“Cigarette butts are a major component of the litter we see across the town and are possibly a bigger contaminant of the oceans than plastics,” he said.

Cllr Bull also suggested that the council considered smoking-free areas of the beach in a bid to reduce the amount ending up in the sea.

Filters used in cigarettes contain plastic and Keep Britain Tidy research has found that they are the most commonly littered item.

Due to the chemicals contained within them, the butts are highly toxic to sea life.

Responding to Cllr Bull, Cllr Smith said: “Cigarette butts are a major source of litter.

“In fact, 120 tonnes of cigarette-related litter is discarded on UK streets every day and account for over 40 per cent of street litter.

“The council does take a proactive approach to litter, educating people about the consequences and their responsibilities, following this up with enforcement where needed.

"Over the years we have run a number of litter awareness campaigns including the Green Goals project, school competitions and advertising.

“This year, the council’s Leave Only Footprints campaign that encourages beach users to take their litter home with them has been well-received.

“There are initial plans underway to expand this campaign for 2019.”

The council also provides support to community groups aiming to clear rubbish and also uses enforcement firm 3GS to issue £80 fixed penalty notices to people caught littering.

“We hope this combined approach of education and enforcement will influence people’s attitudes to litter and help bring about behaviour changes to keep our streets, beaches and seas clean,” Cllr Smith added.

He said that 1,660 fixed penalty notices were issued by 3GS last year with 1,495 of them for “smoking-related littering”.