LARNE smokers who are caught puffing in prohibited areas will have now have an opportunity to sign up to a stop smoking programme rather than receive a fine.
The pilot scheme, set up by the Environmental Health Service and Northern Group Systems, is designed to act as an incentive to help people quit smoking.
Normally, when someone is detected smoking in a smoke-free areas such as workplaces, pubs or restaurants, they are handed a £50 fixed penalty notice; reduced to £30 if paid within 15 days. Over the past three years, Larne Borough Council has issued over 30 of these notices for smoking offences.
Under the new scheme, a person can instead opt to sign up to the stop smoking service, and if after 28 days they have successfully quit smoking, then the fixed penalty will be cancelled. Carbon monoxide validation will be used to confirm that the person has in fact quit smoking, and it has been shown that about 50 per cent of those who sign up to the service have stayed off cigarettes after the 28 day period has ended.
Larne Council approved the implementation of the stop smoking programme at a meeting of the environment committee on Monday.
Councillor Drew Niblock said: “This is a very good scheme and I would like to see if it could be rolled out to include other offences such as dog fouling and littering.”