Kent

Shop vouchers for Maidstone cigarette end droppers

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Media captionSmokers caught dropping litter are to be offered shopping vouches if they agree to give up

Smokers who are fined for dropping cigarette ends or packets are to be given the opportunity to give up and get a £50 shopping voucher.

Maidstone Borough Council is rolling out a scheme in which smokers can elect to go on a quit smoking course and then be tested for several weeks.

Those who give up smoking will receive a shopping voucher which is funded jointly by the council and NHS.

Opponents say it is not the council's role to finance health schemes.

Maidstone council has a zero tolerance policy for those who drop litter and said that 97% of fines were given for smoking related litter offences.

Graham Thomas, from Kent Community Health NHS Trust, said: "I think it's doing a public service. It's money well spent."

The council issues £75 on-the-spot fines for those caught dropping litter.

The council is working with the NHS on a campaign to encourage smokers to give up.

Those who take up the seven week course will attend for an hour each week and then tested for several weeks afterwards before being given the £50 shopping vouchers.

Professor Frank Furedi, from the University of Kent, said "There's a very important principal here.

"What right does a local council have to tell me or to tell you how to behave?

"What right do they have to decide what my values should be?"

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