Students fined for littering cigarettes

Students around Leeds put themselves at the risk of having a really expensive cigarette by littering the remains on the streets. 

Council enforcement officers targeted the city’s universities during Freshers’ Week, and doled out fines to anyone caught dropping cigarette ends.

Student Ellie Bagshaw was fined in front of this building for dropping a cigarette butt. She explained: “I went out for a cig just outside the library at Leeds Beckett. I smoked my cig and just without thinking, because I’m just used to it, I threw it on the floor and then the next moment a guy came over with a camera on him and a high vis jacket. I think it said enforcement officer.

“He said I had to have a fine because I dropped it on the floor. I offered to pick it up and put it in the bin and he said it didn’t matter because I’ve already done it, so I wrote out all my details and then I had to pay £60 within a certain amount of days.”

“Smoke free campus”


On 1st August this year, the University of Leeds became a smoke free campus, which decreases the risk of people littering on the property as well as their odds of receiving a fine for dropping butts on the floor.

University of Leeds have became a smoke free campus

Statistics gathered by the NHS show that there has been a considerable decrease in the amount of smokers across the UK. Yet according to statistics collected by BUPA, two thirds of smokers every year want to quit the habit, but only three out of 10 actually successfully do so.

Smoking under stress

A lot of students talk about how the stress and pressures at university often brings them to begin socially smoking or even to begin seasonally smoking. This is due to the addictive chemical nicotine, that acts as an accelerant and depressant which allows the smoker to feel more awake with a sense of relaxation. Many young people now consider it normal to begin smoking, especially when under stress.

Leeds Beckett sign posting and warning students about council fines for littering cigarettes

“The animosity of it feels a bit like 1984”

Graduate Tom Conway told Leeds Hacks how he has been a smoker since his third year at university. “I started smoking to kind of act out, but then I got addicted which isn’t great. I quit for a bit, coming to the end of my third year, as I was working on my film and used that as a kind of distraction. I used this as a technique to change my focus. But then I left uni and money trouble came up, which is the stupidest time to start smoking. I started working a service job which is horrible, and a lot of people who worked there smoked, so I would go out and have a cigarette break with them.

Leeds City Council using enforcement officers to fine people for littering cigarette butts.

“It is a stress relief thing. If I have a day where I know I’m not going to do anything then I tend not to smoke as much. But if I’m going to work then I’ll probably have a cig or two when I’m out.

“I get it, that people shouldn’t be dropping them on the floor. I think the main thing here is just clean up after yourselves – that is the moral of the story. It sucks that the uni do have to go and clean up after that, but the animosity of it feels a bit like 1984. It seems a bit ridiculous people waiting for students to drop their cigarettes to fine them, especially in Freshers’ week when everyone has their loan – they kind of know then that they can afford it and make an example out of them, but they can’t really afford it, so yeah, it’s a bit of a joke.”

About the Author

Georgia Dossis
Georgia Dossis is a student journalist who writes for Leeds Now.

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