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Not a single person signs up for Swale quit-smoking scheme which pays back part of £150 fines for littering

By Ellis Stephenson

Not a single person has signed up for a council scheme to get people to stop smoking by refunding them part of a £150 fine for dropping cigarette butts.

A quit smoking scheme for litterbugs launched by Swale council has had no takers since it was launched three months ago.

Smokers caught littering could take part in a free One You Smokefree course, with participants given up to £100 of their fines back if they can prove they have quit after a year from signing up.

Not a single person has signed up for Swale council's litter-related quit smoking scheme
Not a single person has signed up for Swale council's litter-related quit smoking scheme

Despite handing out more than 300 fines since October 1, it has been revealed the council has had no one take up the course.

Cabinet member for environment and rural affairs Cllr David Simmons said: “I think it’s rather disappointing because obviously the idea of the scheme was to try to stop people dropping litter and one way to do that was to help people stop smoking.

“It’s just one of a number of measures we’re trying to make it easier for people to do the right thing.

"We’re in the process of installing 80 new bins and the new bins have built-in ashtrays.

“I believe they have been handing out disposable ashtrays (when people receive the fines).

“It was something the council did, as it has got a responsibility towards the health and wellbeing of citizens.

"It was a way of combining that with keeping the streets clean.”

Cllr David Simmons
Cllr David Simmons

The sessions are run by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and offer nicotine replacement therapy through patches or gum.

A council spokesman said: “The NHS offers support to any smoker wanting to quit and this is a way of trying to encourage people towards making the choice to get help to kick the habit.

"Obviously we’d have liked to see more people getting help to stop smoking by now, but it is still early days.

"We’re making changes that we hope will encourage smokers we come into contact with to get support to quit.”

The details on how to take part were handed to litterbugs on a separate leaflet to the fine but will now be added to the back of the Fixed Penalty Notice.

The council spends £900,000 a year cleaning the streets and about three quarters of items collected are smoking related.

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