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Tobacco levy should be used to clean up litter urge MPs

A proportion of tax on tobacco should be given to councils to assist in the cost of clearing cigarette-related litter, according to MPs.

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) committee , which oversees the activities of the Department for Communities and Local Government, says the annual litter clean-up costs in England amount to £850m.

Its report found that chewing gum and cigarettes were the most littered items, while fast-food litter increased by 20% in the last year.

The CLG committee calls for a number of reforms:

  • the tobacco industry should provide free portable ashtrays
  • the government should ensure all public buildings fit ashtrays in areas where staff congregate
  • the next Government should require all shops, restaurants and fast food outlets to keep their premises free from litter
  • the fast-food industry should introduce ‘on-pack’ information on all branded take-away and fast-food packaging
  • manufacturers of chewing gum should make a greater contribution to the cost of clearing littered gum in addition to placing anti-littering notices on packaging, wrappers and adverts
  • increases in the maximum fine for fixed penalty notices for both littering and fly-tipping

Clive Betts MP, CLG committee chairman, said: “Litter levels have remained largely static over the last 12 years, with councils spending hundreds of millions of pounds of tax-payers’ money fighting a losing battle.

“Handing a portion of tobacco levies to local councils to help pay for the cost of clearing cigarette litter would show Government is serious about getting tough on litter.”

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management chief executive Steve Lee said: “Our management of local environmental quality is under pressure and clear proposals for action from this committee are welcome. The suggestion by the committee – in advance of the 2015 Budget Statement – that an element of any increase in tobacco duty should be ear-marked for councils’ street cleansing is a big step.”

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