Drivers who throw lit cigarettes out the window of a vehicle will be slapped with five demerit points under tough new penalties introduced by the NSW Government.
If a driver commits the offence during a total fire ban the penalty will double to 10 demerit points and a fine of up to $11,000.
However, the procedures required to make the new penalties law mean they will not come into effect until January 17, 2020.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said it's the first time a demerit point penalty has been imposed on this type of offence.
"We had an early start to the fire season this year, and just 19 days into summer, we've seen almost three million hectares burnt, more than 700 homes destroyed, and, tragically, six lives lost," he said.
"Firefighters have been on the frontline fighting the blazes day and night and this kind of criminal foolishness will not be tolerated."
Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said more than 200 people had been caught carelessly tossing a lit cigarette this year alone.
"Penalties don't just apply to drivers. If a passenger is caught tossing a lit cigarette on or near the roadway they will be hit with a $660 fine which will also double during total fire bans," he said.
NSW Rural Fire Service Association president Brian McDonough welcomed the government's move.
"This reckless behaviour puts the safety of firefighting volunteers at risk and I hope this move makes people think very carefully about the consequences of their actions next time they go to discard a lit cigarette," he said.
NSW Police and local authorities will enforce the new penalties.
To report someone who has thrown a lit cigarette out the window of a vehicle please contact the NSW Rural Fire Service hotline on 1800 679 737.
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