A NEW invention aims to stub out the threat of discarded cigarettes starting fires in the New Forest.

People who want to light up on a walk are being handed small cardboard pouches where they can safely stow their cigarette butts.

Each pouch contains five tubes designed to snuff out a lit cigarette end as soon as it is slipped inside.

The scheme has been devised by the Forestry Commission in conjunction with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, the New Forest National Park Authority and Forest Holidays.

Forest resident Daniel Stevens said: "More people are now smoking outside because of indoor smoking bans and a lot of people like to light up when they're walking in the Forest.

"Using one of these little pouches means you're never going to get pinched for littering and you'll never accidentally start a forest fire."

Forestry Commission spokeswoman Adela Griffin said: "Our aim is to highlight the huge danger of discarding lit cigarette ends anywhere in the Forest during the dry months.

"Careless smokers have caused some of the worst fires we've ever had. That's why firefighters will be helping the rangers by visiting Forest campsites and handing out pouches to holidaymakers.

"We'll be offering them to as many smokers as possible when the weather heats up and the fire hazard is at its height."