Ken’s campaign to kick London’s smoking litter habit

A campaign to combat the 300 million ashtrays worth of smoking-related litter dumped onto the capital's streets has been launched this week by London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

In response to London’s most widespread litter problem, Mr Livingstone is distributing 15,000 anti-littering cigarette butt pouches amongst Londoners in 26 boroughs.

The problem needs to be tackled before it gets worse as a possible smoking ban in pubs and restaurants would cause more people to congregate on the streets to smoke, increasing the amount of litter, Mr Livingstone said.

“People often think that their cigarette butt is fairly harmless and will not make a difference to London’s litter problem,” he stated. “But in reality, smoking litter is one of the most commonly occurring forms of litter and cigarette filters do not degrade easily. Smokers need to start taking more responsibility for their litter.”

Around 2,700 tonnes of cigarette litter is currently dropped on London’s streets each year. This is equivalent of 6,750 million cigarette butts.

This campaign comes as Westminster City Council has launched an offensive on chewing gum litter in London. A football referee Pierluigi Collina look-a-like and an Italian football team were patrolling Oxford Street this week, issuing “red cards” to anyone caught dropping chewing gum.

Cigarette and chewing gum related litter pose environmental problems as they take a long time to biodegrade, and are two of the biggest urban litter issues (see related story).

Toxic emissions from cigarettes have also recently been proven to contribute to air pollution (see related story) and, therefore, global warming.

By Jane Kettle

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