Tobacco giant helps to install smoking bins in railway station

Smoking bins being installed at the Greymouth railway station are being partly funded by British American Tobacco.

The West Coast Tobacco Coalition, which was made aware of the link, has written to KiwiRail asking it to reconsider the deal and the Grey District Council has cancelled an order.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful announced the bin deal on on September 30. The press release did not mention the link with the international tobacco giant.

However, the group's website does state it had accepted funding, although it does not say how much. It said that was "in no way'' an endorsement of smoking.

West Coast Tobacco Coalition chairwoman Anne Hines, in a letter to the head of KiwiRail, said butt bins normalised smoking.

"The integrity of the campaign is highly questionable.

"Funding litter campaigns shows false regard for New Zealand by companies whose product kills nearly 5000 New Zealanders every year.''

The bins normalised smoking, and allowed tobacco companies to claim social responsibility, she said.

They did nothing to encourage people to stop smoking, which would reduce the number of discarded cigarette butts.

She urged KiwiRail to become completely smokefree, noting its already smokefree Tranz Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth promised "clean, fresh, mountain air''.

"It seems incongruous that passengers will step off the train .. and could be entering a cloud of tobacco smoke on the platform.''

Keep New Zealand Beautiful national programme manager Tracy Shackleton said KiwiRail had requested the bins.

"If a company rings up and requests the bin, we will, of course, oblige.''

KiwiRail passenger general manager Deborah Hume said the company was not aware of the connection with British and American Tobacco.

However, it agreed to accept the bins in order to address a litter and safety issue "and that still stands''.

KiwiRail passenger train services and the Greymouth railway station building were smokefree areas.

"Our intention is to use the bins as provided by Keep New Zealand Beautiful to address the need of some customers, away from our smokefree areas, and to reduce the litter impact and safety risk caused by discarded cigarette butts,'' she said.

- Greymouth Star

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