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Campaigns help reduce gum litter by almost 60%, Government figures reveal

An average reduction in chewing gum litter of almost 60% has been achieved in areas that ran public awareness campaigns, according to Government figures released at the end of 2007. This is an improvement on 2006 when gum litter was reduced by an average of 37%. While in 2007, Blackpool and Oxford reductions reached as high as 85% and 86%. The campaigns, which encouraged people to dispose of gum responsibly and reminded them of the financial penalties of not doing so were run by 16 local authorities (LAs) and coordinated and paid for by the Chewing Gum Action Group (CGAG). Minister for Local Environment Quality Jonathan Shaw said: "Cleaning up all forms of litter costs councils more than half a billion pounds a year. Chewing gum is not only expensive to deal with it is often impossible to remove. Encouraging people to change their careless behaviour so that they don't drop this litter in the first place is the only permanent way of reducing it - before it becomes a costly problem. The campaigns also remind people that dropping any form of litter is an offence that carries a maximum £80 fine. LAs also ran their own initiatives, to inspire positive behaviour change from gum droppers. Initiatives included: grime scene investigations, street theatre, stalls and pledges. An important element of the campaigns was an increase in the visibility of enforcement and fines for gum litter. Each LA campaign ran for four weeks between August and September 2007. Streets were cleansed of chewing gum litter before the campaigns were launched and after they had finished, so that accurate counts of chewing gum litter could be taken to provide the 2007 results. The CGAG is chaired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and includes industry representatives.

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