MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has begun trialling smoke-free areas at various places this year to reduce butt litter and to encourage people to not smoke in public areas.
The areas include the Safety Beach, Mount Eliza and Rye foreshores, the shire offices at Mornington, Hastings and Rosebud, Civic Reserve at Mornington and the Point Leo Foreshore area.
The anti-smoking campaign is supported by beach patrol, community groups and Peninsula Health with the aim: “To make the peninsula happier, healthier and smoke free.”
Another concern is that as cigarette butts are made of plastics they can take up to 10 years to decompose.
The smoke free zones will be marked with signs urging people to butt out before entering. Where possible, butt bins or litter bins will be placed at entrances.
Beach patrol, community groups and user groups will help the shire monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the smoke free trial to run for six months.
“About 7.2 billion cigarettes are littered in Australia each year,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said. “Cigarette butts negatively impact on the environment, waterways and wildlife, and make up 48 per cent of all litter.
“In 2019, about 35,400 cigarette butts were picked up across 16 Mornington Peninsula beaches on Clean up Australia Day.
“This smoke free zone trial will help stop second hand smoke exposure, greatly reduce the amount of butt litter, protect our precious environment and reduce the health impact of smoking on our community.”
An evaluation of the trial using butt litter data and community and beach patrol group feedback will gauge its effectiveness.
Other groups participating include Peninsula Health, Safety Beach/Dromana Beach Patrol, Wastewise Peninsula, Belgravia Leisure, Civic Reserve user groups, Josie Jones from The Only Butt campaign, and Point Leo Foreshore Committee.
This trial is part of the shire’s Mornington Peninsula Smoke Free Environment Policy.
First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 22 June 2021