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News / City Life

Fagged off with fag ends? Tackling the litter bugs who face an £80 fine


Hands up who likes these things.

People talking loudly over the artist at gigs? No thanks. Someone eating crunchy nachos next to you at the cinema? No way. Litter? What? Do I look stupid? Hell no!

So, that's pretty much all of us then. Yet, given that every time you go to a gig you have to ask someone to keep the noise down, or that you spend the first half hour of a film tutting at the couple next to you tucking into their loud snacks, there are a lot of people out there who don't seem to be that bothered.

And then there's litter.

Strangely, a lot of people who wouldn't consider themselves to be litter bugs actually litter all the time. We're not talking about casually discarded food wrappings or empty bottles though, the things that almost everyone finds unacceptable. But when it comes to chewing gum and cigarette ends, it's a different matter.

It's estimated that a single piece of gum costs around 3p, but it costs a whopping £1.50 to get the little bugger off the pavement. That's a UK cleaning bill of a staggering £60million each year. Last year in Manchester, 800,000 pieces of gum had to be removed from our streets. You do the maths.

And this week a new poster campaign has been launched to remind smokers that their fag ends have no place on Manchester's streets. An £80 fine faces anyone caught dropping their butt instead of using one of hundreds of public ashtrays adorning the streets. 'Dropping a ciggie is a biggie' tries to remind people who would never dream of dropping litter that that is exactly what they are doing.

A major crackdown has resulted in over 250 on the spot fines in recent months. Last week, a local man who refused to pay had to fork out £420 in fines and costs when his refusal landed him in court.

It might be worth reminding your friend, colleague or whoever that there's more than just the threat of a fine for being a litter lout.

Here are five facts about cigarette litter which you might think about next time you're having a fag on your lunch break...

1: Cigarette ends remain in the environment for as long as most plastics, taking years to break down, with 4.3 trillion globally ending up as litter in the space of a year

2: They are often mistaken for food by birds and other wildlife and are not digestible 

3: Wind carries them into rivers where they can ultimately end up getting into the water supply causing toxicity levels to rise

4: 32% of litter clogging up public drains is tobacco product

5: Smoking near the sea on holiday? One cigarette butt soaked in a litre of water for 96 hours leaches out enough toxins to kill half of the fresh or salt water fish exposed to them


Does cigarette litter bother you?

Have your say at #trashtalkmcr