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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April 2005, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
NZ cigarette butt sold for $5,300
man stubbing out cigarette (generic)
Since the ban, New Zealanders have ben forbidden from smoking in bars
The remains of a cigarette smoked in the final seconds before New Zealand's smoking ban came into force has been sold for more than NZ$7,400 ($5,300).

The cigarette was smoked at 11:59pm on 9 December 2004 by the owners of popular Auckland bar Malt.

New Zealand introduced a law banning smoking in most public places at midnight on 10 December.

The cigarette butt was described on the auction website TradeMe as a "priceless Kiwiana collector's item".

The successful bidder, who has not been identified, also received a certificate of authenticity, and a mounted display case.

The cigarette butt was auctioned with a reserve price of NZ$1 (75 US cents).

But according to the French news agency AFP, it finally sold for NZ$7,475 (US$5,377) on Thursday.

More than 130,000 bids were placed on it, Trademe's business manager Mike O'Donnell told AFP - more than double the site's previous record. The owner of Malt, Luke Dallow, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that he remembered a man rushing into his bar just before midnight on 9 December, asking him for a cigarette butt.

Having obtained one, he then approached Mr Dallow and his business partner and asked them to sign a certificate of authentication.

"We thought it was a crock," Mr Dallow said.

On learning of the success of the auction, he said he did not resent the stranger's entrepreneurial skills.

"I think good on the bloke," he said.

Action on Smoking and Health director Becky Freeman described the auction as a "bit of a publicity stunt".

"I can think of a lot better things to spend money on than cigarette butts," she told the New Zealand Herald.

Country profile: New Zealand
25 Mar 05 |  Country profiles

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