Streets pay price of smoking curbs

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Restrictions in the workplace have led to a revolution in smoking habits over the last decade, according to a new survey.

Cigarette ends are now the most common litter on the pavements and as millions try to quit on No Smoking Day, the Tidy Britain Group announced it was starting research into the effects of this social phenomenon.

As one-third of all workplaces ban smoking, groups of smokers, turned into office pariahs, can be seen outside huddled in doorways against the wind and rain but leaving their litter behind.

Surveys in London and more than 80 other cities and towns showed that smoking-related litter affected almost 90 per cent of streets.

The next most common items were sweet wrappers (40 per cent), drinks containers (26 per cent) and fast-food packaging (13 per cent).

Smoking in the street was once frowned upon, but it now provides the only chance for many people to light up as shops, theatres, cinemas and many restaurants ban smoking.

The group said one result of its research was likely to be a recommendation that employers provide facilities for smokers.

"That would stop the evidence of a no-smoking policy being left outside the premises," the group spokeswoman said. "Smoking-related litter presents particular problems, because it can get caught in paving cracks, making it difficult for even the most conscientious of street cleaners to sweep up."

In another survey, published by the nicotine patch manufacturers Nicorette, of those who have to go outside to smoke, only 7 per cent claimed they enjoyed their cigarette.

Last year on No Smoking Day, 2 million people took part and at least 40,000 gave up for good. According to a 1994 poll, there are more than 12 million cigarette smokers in the UK and 67 per cent of them want to quit.