I know I am not alone when I say how frustrating and upsetting it is to find disgusting cigarette butts' strewn across the ground while walking through our lovely parks, commons or woods. After the recent warm weather earlier this week, it was so disheartening to see the images of litter strewn across some of our country’s great parks and beaches, from Leeds to London, and Birmingham to Brighton – this frustration is shared by my colleagues in the Government, and I want to let you all know it has been announced this week the Government are actively considering measures to make the tobacco industry reduce litter caused by their products.
This includes the possibility of Tobacco companies having to pay the full disposal costs of tobacco waste products, ensuring the sector takes sufficient financial responsibility for the litter its products create, under wider plans being explored by my Ministerial colleagues which will further protect our natural environment and green spaces, while saving local councils money.
This would be in the form of a regulatory extended producer responsibility scheme for cigarette butts in England, a new power currently being legislated for in the Environment Bill, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-bill-2020
This follows new evidence that cleaning up littered cigarette butts currently costs UK local authorities around £40 million per year – money which could be far better spent supporting local communities. While it is fantastic to see smoking rates being at their lowest recorded level, it is simply unacceptable that cigarette filters are still the most commonly littered item in England – making up to 68% of all littered items and are found on around 80% of surveyed sites. This demonstrates why we need to take action, and why we are exploring various options at the moment.
Furthermore, the Government is taking action to reducing the prevalence of smoking in the UK, and we are publishing a new tobacco control plan for England later this year, in order to deliver on our ambition of a smoke-free country by 2030.
Following this announcement my colleague, the Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow MP, said:
“Cigarette butts are a blight on our communities, littering our streets or ending up washed down the drain and polluting our rivers and oceans.
“We must all take action to protect our environment. We are committed to making sure that the tobacco industry plays its part. That is why we are exploring how cigarette companies can be held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge of litter created by their products.”
For further information and detail on this really positive announcement, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-explores-next-steps-to-clean-up-tobacco-litter-in-england