- New plastic tax on cigarettes being considered to tackle the increase in littered cigarette butts
- Made possible by a new power currently being legislated in Environment Bill
- Estimated cost of cleaning up is £40 million a year
Cigarette butts remain the most common form of litter blighting our towns and countryside.
The scourge is so widespread that the bill for clearing up this type of litter is officially estimated at around £40million a year.
With the burden of that cost falling largely on already stretched councils with support from volunteer litter pickers; Government ministers are now considering forcing tobacco firms to pay an extra tax to help fund the clean-up.
Efforts to get the industry to voluntarily take financial responsibility for the disposal of butts and other detritus have been unsuccessful. Imposing a tax on single-use plastic – which a cigarette butt effectively is – would be made possible by a new power currently being legislated for in the Environment Bill for 2022.
This would require the tobacco industry to pay the full disposal costs, with the Government leaning towards a tax ‘to ensure that the industry takes sufficient financial responsibility for the litter created by its products’.
Environment minister Rebecca Pow 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.’