Wellington councillors are divided over whether butts being dropped in the city's streets should be targeted more heavily than other litterers.
The question is open for consultation in the Public Places Bylaw, although officers have warned it's likely to be impractical and difficult to enforce without catching a butt-dropper in the act.
The council's city strategy committee met to discuss the issue this morning.
City councillor Brian Dawson said littering is already banned and those who throw rubbish in the street should be dealt with equally under the law.
"We don't want to be seen as targeting smokers specifically. I don't want to see people walking down the road, one throwing a coffee cup in the gutter and the other one throwing a cigarette butt, and one gets fined and one doesn't. That's just silly."
He said some bylaws seemed to be more about sending a message because the council did not put resources into policing them.
Other options included publicity, education, and encouraging people to seek help quitting.
But councillor Simon Woolf said having cigarette butts specified in the bylaw would bring more light to the issue. Butts littering the streets bothered residents and were particularly bad for the environment, he said.
"I put that amendment up knowing full well we were covered by the [Litter Act] but I wanted to get it out there because a number of Wellingtonians - especially in the CBD - are worried about the look of their city."
Those who drop butts are "selfish", Woolf said, but he agreed education should come before prosecution.
He would be pushing for money in the council's Long Term Plan "to get people out there to say to infringers 'This is not acceptable' ".