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French driver owns up to police over throwing cigarette butt from car

The driver was on holiday in north-east Spain, where hot weather has increased the risk of wildfires

One in three people in France admit to throwing cigarettes while driving. Pic: Jong42 / Shutterstock

A French driver has handed himself into authorities in Catalonia, Spain, for throwing a cigarette butt from the window of his vehicle.

Spanish police were looking for the driver earlier this week after a video of him throwing the cigarette butt out of his car in Palafrugell, near Girona, went viral on social media.

Online commentators criticised the driver for his dangerous behaviour as the area is currently experiencing high temperatures putting it at maximum risk of wildfires.

Local police then launched a manhunt using surveillance videos to find the driver of the vehicle, which is registered in France.

Locals in Palafrugell also helped with the search. In a Tweet local authorities thanked them for sending images of the vehicle when it was spotted in the local area.

The driver, who was on holiday in Spain, turned himself into police this morning and has been fined €200, French press report. 

One in three smokers admit to throwing cigarettes while driving in France

In France, drivers who throw cigarette butts from their vehicles risk a fine of €135. If the cigarette butt causes damage such as fires, this can rise to a fine of €3,750 and six months in prison, or even harsher sanctions if the damage is severe.

Motorway concession holder Vinci Autoroutes found that one in three people in France who smoke and drive admitted throwing cigarette butts out of the window in 2020.

It advises that smokers carry a pocket ashtray while driving to store cigarette butts, or to use ashtrays provided in service stations.

Cigarette butts that are not thrown away properly risk causing great damage. A single cigarette butt takes up to 12 years to decompose if discarded in natural areas and is capable of polluting up to 500 litres of water.

During periods of dry weather and heatwaves, the risk of cigarette butts causing devastating wildfires is high.

Weeks before the French driver was issued a fine in Palafrugell, the area experienced huge wildfires that destroyed 415 hectares of vegetation in the Cap de Creus national park.

Inquiries revealed the fires were caused by a cigarette butt.

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