Smokers must stub them out in bins or face instant fines

Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
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VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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For thousands of bus users every week it is their first impression of Havant. And for many, it might well be their last.

For some, the sight and smell of thousands of discarded dog ends might seem a trivial matter.

But for others, like 59-year-old Colin Brown, it leaves a distinctly sour taste and aroma.

He reckons that the other day there were thousands of cigarette butts and roll-ups littering the ground at Havant bus station – one of the busiest in Hampshire.

Along with the town’s railway station (where smoking is banned within its precincts), the bus station is often the first port of call for people visiting the area.

Colin compares the place to ‘a giant ashtray’ and he says it’s not only the public who are fouling the station, but also bus drivers enjoying a smoke before getting behind the wheel.

Sarah Winder, who speaks for bus firm Stagecoach, says there is a designated smoking area for drivers and butt bins are provided.

Which begs the question, why aren’t they forced to use them? Isn’t there an inspector or manager who can enforce the rules?

Havant Borough Council spokeswoman Sally Foster says: ‘It’s an offence to drop a cigarette and if someone is caught they are liable for a fixed penalty fine of £75.

‘There is a smoking ban inside the waiting area, but outside is a public highway and there is nothing we can do about that.’

Oh yes there is.

Why not employ a cleaner or road sweeper? Or if funds really are that tight, why not go halves with Stagecoach?

Failing that why not send a couple of environmental health officers round every couple of hours for a month to dish out those fixed penalty fines for those caught flicking a butt to the ground? That would soon sort them out.

Mr Brown is right to highlight the problem, but we would not support any general call for smoking in public outdoor places to be banned.

People simply need to be shown the error of their ways and if this means handing out on-the-spot fines , lots of them, to drive the message home, so be it. It’s better than driving people away.