Paris smokers face stiff fine for butts
Thursday, 01 October 2015 12:55
Paris smokers face stiff fine for buttsImage copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Cigarette butts can take years to decompose and release heavy metals and pollutants during that time

Stricter measures to stop people dropping cigarette butts on the streets of Paris have come into force.

Smokers caught flicking their stub on the pavement now face a €68 (£50) fine.

An estimated 350 tonnes of cigarettes are discarded on the streets of Paris each year, city officials say.

France's ban on smoking in public places was extended to include bars and restaurants in 2008. About 28% of people in France are regular smokers - a relatively high rate for the EU.

Some observers say the ban in bars and restaurants has increased littering as smokers are forced outside.

Cigarette butts can take years to decompose, during which time they release heavy metals and pollutants.

"These toxic substances are harmful to surrounding flora and fauna, and when swept or thrown into gutters they also pollute the water," the city authorities said in a statement.

Image copyrightAPImage caption City authorities have been trying to crack down on people dropping cigarette butts with publicity campaigns in recent years

On Thursday, the fine for dropping cigarette butts increased from €35 to €68.

Other measures planned for the city include distributing some 15,000 pocket ashtrays free of charge to Parisians and visitors.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has made it her mission to target "incivility" on the capital's streets, boosting powers for officials to fine people for anti-social behaviour and setting out plans to banish cars in certain areas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the high rate of tobacco use in Europe means that it has one of the highest proportions globally of deaths caused by smoking.

It says more people smoke in France than EU member states including Italy, Portugal and the UK.

Spain and Greece have higher rates, according to its report.

Tobacco kills more than 73,000 people in France every year, according to the ministry of health.

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