The initiative – ‘No More Butts’ – aims to combat a rise in the number of cigarette butts being dropped on pavements and in drains across town.
It will see messages temporarily placed on drains in St Helier, and both the honorary and States police forces are being asked to remind smokers that discarding cigarette litter is unacceptable and could lead to a fine.
St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft said: ‘Despite a decrease in the number of people who choose to smoke, and the many litter bins and ashtrays provided to smokers, we are still seeing far too many cigarette ends and other litter associated with smoking.
‘Not only does this cause environmental damage, but it also adds to the rates bills of St Helier parishioners. I am hoping that this new campaign will help reduce the problem, but I suspect that it will take some enforcement by our police forces before those who discard their cigarette butts thoughtlessly cease doing so.’
Dropping any type of litter is an offence under the Policing of Roads Regulations 1959, but last year a freedom of information request revealed that no fines had been handed out in a decade to people disposing of cigarette butts inappropriately.
One in seven adults aged 16 and over in Jersey reported being smokers of tobacco products last year.
It takes around 12 years for the paper element of a cigarette butt to biodegrade, while the plastic filter takes even longer.
Environmentalist Sheena Brockie, who has previously campaigned on the issue, said: ‘In the summertime you can see the litter more clearly as it isn’t washed away by the rain, so it is a good time to raise awareness.’
She added: ‘There is a massive disconnect about what happens to our rubbish, especially cigarette butts – it has to go somewhere.’
Used cigarette filters contain toxins that can leach into the ground and waterways and damage living organisms. Most filters are discarded with tobacco still attached to them – polluting the environment with nicotine, which is poisonous.
Town centre and events manager Connor Burgher said: ‘This has been planned for a long time and there has been a huge amount of work done by various people within the parish. I think it’s important because it’s the summertime, more people will be outside enjoying the al fresco areas and that might lead to them having cigarettes that need to be disposed of.’
Kevin Proctor, one of the campaign’s organisers, said: ‘I think it is such an important topic to raise. It [the campaign] is not meant to demonise people – so many people just don’t realise that if they put a cigarette down the drain it can go out into the bay.’
He added: ‘It’s just about raising awareness, and I think it can be built upon with bigger litter campaigns in other areas but this is a start.’