Cigarette butt levy sparks tobacco row

Tobacco industry says it is doing all it can to encourage consumers to change behaviour
Tobacco industry says it is doing all it can to encourage consumers to change behaviour

By Alex Stevenson

A dispute has broken out over whether tobacco companies should be forced to pay a 'clean-up charge' for cigarette butts.

The environment, food and rural affairs committee's report into waste strategy, published earlier this week, called on the government to evaluate the practicalities of imposing a small 'clean-up' levy on the products most commonly littered.

"Revenues could be distributed to local authorities to help clean up their neighbourhoods," the report suggested.


The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association reacted strongly against the proposal.

It argued its support of personal ashtrays and other initiatives which encourage consumers to "properly dispose" of "each and every butt" meant it should not have to be penalised.

"Across the UK, especially since the implementation of the smoking ban, our member companies have been working with the licensed trade to encourage them to provide ashtrays and cigarette disposal facilities in outdoor areas," a spokesman said.

"The best way to prevent smoking related litter is through changing people's behaviour by encouraging personal responsibility, providing solutions and enforcing existing anti-litter laws."

In addition to litter from containers used to drink retail drinks and confectionery packaging, 'smoking materials' constitutes the most prevalent type of litter, according to Keep Britain Tidy's 2008 survey.

According to anti-smoking charity Ash's Amanda Sandford around 200 million cigarette butts are dropped on Britain's streets every day.

"An extra levy on tobacco products may make smokers think twice about dropping cigarette ends and tobacco packaging, and would go someway towards meeting the huge clean up cost," she commented.

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