France to tackle scourge of discarded cigarette butts

FILED - Cigarettes Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB/Symbolbild

The French environment ministry has vowed to tackle the scourge of billions of discarded cigarette butts which litter the country’s streets, parks and nature.

Within six years, the ministry wants to see a 40 per cent reduction in the estimated 23.5 billion cigarette butts that smokers toss away thoughtlessly every year, officials said in a statement on Tuesday.

The ministry wants to make tobacco companies responsible. A recycling and anti-waste law passed last year requires them to take care of the whereabouts of their products after their “end of life.”

The tobacco industry will contribute 80 million euros (93.8 million dollars) per year which a newly approved institution will allocate to projects aimed at eliminating cigarette butts and raising awareness, the ministry said.

The ministry also wants to distribute pocket ashtrays, set up more cigarette-only trash bins and establish new collection and recycling systems for cigarette butts, which are known colloquially as “megos” in French.

According to the latest EU statistics, the proportion of smokers in France is 22.4 per cent of the population, compared to 15.9 per cent in Germany.

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