I was fined £150 for flicking my cigarette away even though I put it in the bin afterwards… the penalty is way too high

A SMOKER fined £150 for flicking away his cigarette butt despite putting it in a bin straight after.  

Giles Klech, 51, was caught throwing away the stub by enforcement officers.

But he said there are too few bins in Faversham, Kent, and that officials are targeting smokers for “easy money-making”. 

He said: "How can you possibly charge £150 for dropping a cigarette butt, which was subsequently picked up and put in a bin?

"It has hardly ruined the whole of Swale. They are doing this in 2022, with costs and energy prices rising.

"I told them where we live fly-tipping is everywhere, and it gets complained about all the time, but they still don't stick the resources there.

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"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."

Councils have the power to issue on-the-spot fines for littering, which includes dropping cigarette butts or not clearing up dog mess.

Almost 90 per cent of all littering fines by Swale borough council last year were for littering, generating £97,700.

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But IT professional Mr Klech also said it was unethical that there are no signs warning about potential fines for littering. 

He added: “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.

“I often pick up other people’s rubbish and stick it in bins – and I also pick up other people’s dog poo.

“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 has been given an extra month to pay the fine, which was issued in March.

A spokesman for the authority says it spends more than £1 million cleaning the borough’s streets each year – with about three-quarters of litter smoking-related.

“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,” they said.

“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.

“It pays for enforcement, as well as environmental projects such as buying litter pickers for beach cleans, installing extra litter bins, and our community environment grants.

“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.

“Last year we issued more than 1,400 FPNs to people caught littering and more than 150 of these were later prosecuted in court for failing to pay the FPN.

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

Last month a furious woman fined for dropping a cigarette butt urged the council to focus on "real problems".

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In 2017 a smoker ended up with a £500 fine for dropping a single fag end.

And a 21-year-old was fined more than her weekly wage when she accidentally dropped one.

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