DEFRA applies pressure on tobacco industry over smoking related litter

Rebecca Pow submits letter to the Tobacco Manufacturers Association threatening measures to ensure industry takes increasing responsibility for littering.

In a letter dated 20 July published recently, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA stated that “I had hoped to see the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association and the companies it represents work more pro-actively to deliver on the commitment it gave during the 2015 select committee inquiry on litter and fly-tipping.”

Pow extends an invitation of a round-table discussion between tobacco industry stakeholders and Keep Britain Tidy to discuss progress on commitments previously made by the industry.

In order to encourage engagement and for the tobacco industry to take increasing responsibility for the litter their products create, Pow threatens that “The powers we are seeking in the Environment Bill would allow us to mandate an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme for tobacco filters. Such a scheme could go beyond what Keep Britain Tidy has proposed to the industry as a voluntary approach.”

Pow signs off the letter by stating that “It remains the Government’s vision to deliver the most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth.”

Never fully biodegrade

Keep Britain Tidy previously launched the Bin the Butt campaign in 2018, which revealed that 52% of smokers who smoke everyday thought putting a cigarette down the drain was acceptable and 11% of smokers do not consider cigarette butts to be litter.



The campaign seeks to raise awareness that cigarette butts can take years to breakdown and worse still never fully biodegrade and are toxic to the marine environment.

Door to further regulation remains open

Robbie Staniforth, head of policy at Ecosurety commented “It is great to see that the door to further regulation remains open should significant improvements not be made in the coming years. It goes without saying that cigarette litter is a blight on the landscape."

"If packaging producers are expected by the Government and society to cover the costs of packaging that gets littered, the same logic can clearly be applied to smoking related items.”

Find out more about other potential future EPR schemes, including for fishing gear, building waste, tyres and textiles.

Ben Luger

Marketing projects specialist

Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

Written by Ben Luger Published 26/08/2020 Topics Sustainability
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