Man fined £150 for dropping cigarette says smokers are ‘easy’ targets

A man fined for dropping a cigarette butt says it was not his fault as there was no sign warning against it – and claims smokers are victims of an ‘easy money-making’ scheme.

IT worker Giles Kelch, 51, was spotted dropping his stub on the ground in Faversham, Kent, on March 29.

He was seen by an enforcement officer working on behalf of the local council, who gave him a £150 fixed penalty notice.

But Mr Kelch, criticised Swale Borough Council’s approach as ‘unethical’, saying they had not provided enough bins.

‘I often pick up other people’s rubbish and stick it in bins and I also pick up other people’s dog poo,’ he said.

‘One cigarette butt is not going to ruin the whole of Swale, and I think it is absolutely disgusting. I think they’re trying to make money for the council.’

He said this should not be a major issue when costs and energy prices are rising, saying that the council should focus on the extensive fly-tipping in the area.

Mr Kelch also feels there are not enough signs warning people of the punishments for littering.

‘There are no signs stating if you do it, you’ll be fined, and I think that is unethical in the extreme,’ he said.

‘I don’t see how you can charge people who are unaware it will be enforced, if you don’t put any signs up? If you go to a car park and you don’t pay, you know you will be charged [because of the signs].’

He said the cigarette end was put in the bin once it was pointed out.

Mr Kelch, who looks after his bed-bound father, has been given an extra month to pay the fine.

He said: ‘Their take was if you’re walking around and there are no bins, you wait until you get home and stick it in the bin.

‘There are only bins in the town centre, but once you come out of it, there is nothing.’

Almost 90% of littering fines issued by Swale council in 2021 were for discarded cigarette ends. Of 1,221 fixed penalty notices, 1,092 were for cigarettes, generating £97,000 in revenue.

An undisclosed percentage goes to Kingdom LA Support, the company the council has contracted to carry out the enforcement.

Only five fixed penalty notices were issued for dog fouling in the same year and none in the two years before.

A spokesperson for the authority said it spends more than £1 million each year cleaning the borough’s streets – with smokers accounting for three-quarters of all litter.

They said: ‘Not only do cigarette butts look unsightly but they contain single use plastics and toxic chemicals that can persist in the environment for many years.

‘Littering of any kind can receive a fixed penalty notice of £150, and that includes cigarette butts.

‘Any income we receive from litter FPNs is re-invested into schemes to keep the borough clear of litter.

‘We also offer people who have received a smoking-related FPN a £100 refund if they successfully quit smoking through the NHS One You Smokefree programme.’

‘Residents tell us that having clean streets is important to them and we will continue to issue FPNs to anyone caught littering.’