Tuesday 30 March 2021 1:19 pm

Tobacco stocks in the red on UK’s £40m cigarette butt cleaning plan

Tobacco stocks slipped into the red today after the government unveiled plans to slap manufacturers with the £40m annual cost of cleaning up cigarette butts.

In a statement this morning junior environment minister Rebecca Pow said the UK was looking at how tobacco firms could be “held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge of litter created by their products”.

Ministers are considering extending current regulation to force cigarette companies to pay the full cost of waste disposal, which currently costs local authorities around £40m per year.

Shares in British American Tobacco dropped almost 1.6 per cent following the announcement, while Imperial Brands was down 1.75 per cent.

According to research by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, smoking related litter is the most prevalent form of litter in England, accounting for 68 per cent of all littered items.

Most cigarette buts are single-use and contain hundreds of toxic chemicals once smoked. They can persist for many years and release the chemicals, harming plants and wildlife.

The government has set out plans to address the issue by reducing the prevalence of smoking. Later this year it will publish a new tobacco control plan for England as part of its aim to make the country smoke-free by the end of the decade.

The littering rules are being considered as part of a new Environment Bill, which would legislate for extended producer responsibility schemes.

The government is already consulting on a proposed scheme that would cover cigarette and tobacco product packaging.