SMOKERS who drop cigarette butts in tree enclosures are warned their mindless actions could kill young roots.
An unofficial safeguarding warning is being voiced across Frinton to prevent new trees from being poisoned soon after they are planted.
The fear is nicotine from the butts will be taken in by tree roots when the bases are watered.
The issue was raised at Frinton Residents’ Association’s annual general meeting in light of about eight trees being replaced by Essex Council in Connaught Avenue and Ferndown Road so far this year.
Attendant David Foster, chairman of Frinton in Bloom, said while it is unlikely to kill the trees, it is undesirable.
He said: “Whatever you do that adds pollutants to the environment, won’t be helpful.
“As volunteers we go round and clear cigarette rubbish and other debris but we can’t continue to do it.
“Anywhere there’s an opportunity for people to drop tips, whether in planters or tree bases, they tend to do it, and there’s not too much we can do about it.
“Hopefully it will only be concentrated in one or two areas where people smoke rather than in general areas where people are walking.”
Essex Council replaced six trees in Connaught Avenue for the planting period 2016-17.
Between 40 and 50 are scheduled for planting in Frinton for 2017-18, which may be phased over several seasons depending on the cost.
Frinton Residents’ Association chairman Neil Churcher said cigarette ends are part of a larger littering problem.
He said: “We all like to see the trees, particularly the young trees but the nicotine could kill them.
“The county council has spent a fortune relaying the pavement and the trees are pinned down with cages around them, but people still sling their rubbish in it.
“The bird mess all along Connaught Avenue is quite revolting, some shopkeepers clean it and others don’t.
“There are A-boards in the middle of the pavement although there are restrictions in place saying they shouldn’t be more than a metre from their shop.
“We haven’t got signs telling people to take their rubbish home but that would be a good idea because everyone has their part to play, even visitors.
“It comes down to people not taking care of the locality when it should be the community looking after its own area.”
Mr Foster explained litter comes hand-in-hand with Frinton being a seaside town as well as others nuisances like “feral pigeons”.
He added: “Hopefully by June the floral displays will be up for Frinton in Bloom.
“Once there’s more colour in the town, which we’re trying to encourage businesses to do outside their shops, perhaps people will take more notice rather than emptying their ashtrays out on to the plants.”