TASMANIA makes a feeble claim as the clean, green and clever state when public places resemble a giant ashtray.
As Clean Up Australia Day founder Ian Kiernan said: individuals must take more responsibility for their actions. He urged local councils to take the issue more seriously.
Littering a cigarette butt is illegal under the 2007 Litter Act and carries a maximum fine of $240, if the matter is prosecuted.
Prosecutions in the state are few and far between, and fines are rarely enforced.
On-the-spot fines of $120 are available to authorities but while littering is hard to police, the fines are modest.
Maximum fines for littering range up to $2400 but let's face it, how many times does this happen?
Fines should be ramped up and enforcement should be vigorous. Sure, people need constant education about taking responsibility for their waste, whether it be garbage or a butt flicked from a vehicle, but heavy penalties always grab people's attention.
In Singapore, where being found in possession of a pinch of heroin, cocaine or dope attracts a mandatory death sentence, litterers will cop a $1000 fine. A third offence means the offender is also forced to sweep the streets and wear a "I am a litter lout" sign around their necks. You can be fined for not flushing toilets in Singapore.
Ian Kiernan's frustration is ample proof that we are losing the war on litter and we are losing our clean green status.
The clean and green status is a treasured asset. Tasmania hasn't got a lot going for it economically except our tourism and wilderness. We should nurture it and vilify anyone who would wilfully threaten our livelihood.
As Mr Kiernan said, if we don't clean up our act tourists will find somewhere else to visit where the inhabitants take pride in their local environment. It is an extremely serious issue. If the general take-out from visitors is that the place is filthy, then we will get a Third World reputation for squalor.
Think about that, and think about your livelihood, the next time you casually throw out that butt from your car or dump rubbish by the road side.