On Monday, October 8, the Brussels region decided to go after Big Tobacco where it hurts most: its wallet. Cigarette manufacturers have been invited to participate in expenses related to managing cigarette butt waste removal. The result is an invoice for 200,000 Euros.
Cigarette butts are a major source of pollution in cities throughout the Belgian countryside, since a discarded cigarette butt can pollute up to 5,000 litres of water. Indeed, each day, 10 million cigarette butts are discarded throughout Belgium, and this scourge has particularly affected the Belgian capital.
The Brussels region has tried to implement strategies limiting cigarette butt pollution, including street sweepers and free portable ashtrays that are handed out at public events. However, such strategies come with a price: Fadila Laanan, a public official, recently announced that the costs of cigarette butt pollution reduction have risen to €203,500 in 2018.
Big Tobacco ready to pay
In order to help support this new initiative, the Brussels region has chosen to apply the “pay to pollute” principle. Three tobacco manufacturers must now pay to help prevent smokers from polluting the Belgian environment. The new obligation seems to be working: the American company Philip Morris as well as two Belgian companies, Cimabel and Fetabel, have agreed to help.
In the near future, Brussels could use the examples of Flanders and Wallonia to hold Big Tobacco accountable for the fight against cigarette butt pollution. Tobacco manufacturers in these two Belgian regions are now participating in paying for clean up.
In France, cigarette butts on the sidewalk remain a public nuisance and an ecological disaster. The city of Paris has decided to increase the number of fines for smokers caught discarding cigarette butts in city streets.