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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 21:30 GMT
Councils chew over gum tax plan
Chewing gum on street
There are calls for the development of biodegradable gum
A tax on chewing gum is needed to help meet the 150m annual cost of cleaning it off streets, council representatives from across the UK are expected to say.

A first national "gum summit" in London will call for a penny-a-packet tax.

The Liberal Democrats have also called for anti-litter messages on packs, and the development of biodegradable gum.

Gum maker Wrigley's says 5m research on that has been unsuccessful. Cardiff, Westminster, Edinburgh and Belfast representatives are due at the summit.

Lib Dem London Assembly member and environment spokesman Mike Tuffrey said: "Chewing gum that is irresponsibly spat on to the street is a nuisance, an eyesore and costing taxpayers millions each year to clean up.

Reclassification plans

"If we can get a man on the moon and a probe to Mars, I'm sure we can find a way of producing gum that degrades."

The summit will also discuss fears that proposed changes to litter laws being debated in the House of Commons could lead to the reclassification of gum as litter and increase the burden on councils to deal with it.

The summit will send this postcard to manufacturer Wrigley's

"We are hoping for some government assurance," said Westminster councillor Alan Bradley.

Currently the annual clean-up cost across the capital is estimated at around 4m, with half of that spent removing gum from London Underground trains and stations.

Mr Bradley said: "We are pressing for a government levy or voluntary contribution to help meet our clean-up bill.

"The money would also be used to pay for a national education campaign."

A giant postcard, signed by all delegate cities, will be delivered to the Plymouth headquarters of Wrigley's on Wednesday morning, with the message Wish You Weren't Here.

A spokeswoman for the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Association said a campaign would be launched this year "to persuade people to dispose of their gum responsibly".

But she said the industry opposed a tax that would make consumers think they had paid for the right to discard gum.

UK gum sales are worth an estimated 258m a year.

Your comments

Taxation isn't the answer; getting tough with offenders is.
Lee Parkinson, Ulverston, UK
Is this an admission that prohibition signs do no good? Despite numerous anti-litter and dog fouling warning signs indicating 1000 fines, our streets are covered with litter, gum and, worst of all, dog excrement because a few individuals lack the self-discipline to clean up after themselves and their animals. Taxation isn't the answer; getting tough with offenders is. If large fines don't deter them, perhaps mandatory community service orders which involve cleaning up the filth they leave behind will.
Lee Parkinson, Ulverston, UK

Since an outright ban on the stuff is totally unrealistic, I would support support a tax of say 0.30 per pack for chewing gum, bubble gum and other inedible, but chewable materials. Not only does the irresponsible disposal of the substance cause annoyance, chewing in public conveys a "couldn't care less attitude" towards others.
Andrew Taylor, Nottingham, UK

Of course gum is a problem, but after you finished chewing where do want people to put it? It is all very well having 'please put in the litter bin' signs when there are no litter bins!
Simon Harris, London, UK

I recently viewed a number of secondary schools with my daughter, and noticed that some had filthy floors, walls and desks, studded with gum, yet one school did not. The reason? There were frequent small 'gum bins' mounted on the walls along the corridors. If children can use them and keep their environment clean, why not provide 'gum bins' in the street, and see if adults can follow their example?
Alison, Bristol, UK

I chew constantly at work, getting through over a packet a day. I find chewing a concentration aid and it relieves stress. Personally I find chewing a far less disgusting habit than smoking, eating fast food or drinking, which other people make the same claims of. I have never spat my gum in the street, and always dispose of it in bin. I would have no problem with a 1p tax to help clean streets of such rubbish and heavier fines for those found littering. However, surely the same tax should also apply to all fast food outlets, chip shops, newsagents and anywhere which sells items in a plastic bag.
Nathan Potter, Bath, UK

Spitting one's gum irresponsibly onto the street is of course disgraceful, but why can't councils accept that the cleaning expenses are just a cost they should bear? If they continue with this 'We'll provide this service but you're going to have to pay for it' attitude, how long is it before the innocent majority are called upon to pay a tax on spray-paint because an irresponsible minority use it to paint graffiti?
Ross, Sanderstead, England

Studies have proven that chewing gum fights tooth decay and leads to all round better oral health
Bradley Philpot, Southampton
I have to disagree with the notion that chewing gum is a 'filthy habit'. Studies have proven that chewing gum fights tooth decay and leads to all round better oral health. However, I agree that it should be disposed of sensibly and not simply spat out on the street.
Bradley Philpot, Southampton

The problem is not just gum but the all too ready habit of removing the contents of one's mouth and putting it on the ground, ie spitting There has to be a massive crackdown on spitting. Start with footballers, they started this craze. Fine them for it. Ban them. Do the same to people on the street caught spitting - fine them I mean - on the spot. Then the gum problem will end.
Steve, London

I always dispose of my gum responsibly, why should I be taxed because a few lazy people can't be bothered to dispose of it correctly? An on the spot fine for those offending would be better.

I've just come back from Perth, Western Australia and I can't believe how dirty this country is compared to Australia. All the kids have been taught to use bins and recycle. We need to get people to care about our environment and use bins, it doesn't take more than two minutes to find a bin or put the rubbish in your pocket until you get home. What annoys me is that people wouldn't throw stuff on the floor at home.
Suzy, Birmingham

I think children are not the ones who need to be educated, I see grown men and women throw litter in the street
Natasha, Belfast
I feel the tax would be a great way to tackle the problem as people will be facing up to the responsibility and admitting we have a problem. I think children are not the ones who need to be educated, I see grown men and women throw litter in the street without a second thought. What example does this set for children?
Natasha, Belfast

Litter in Britain is a huge problem, I for one am tired of having to apologise to overseas visitor for the situation. Go to Switzerland and you will have difficulty in finding even a discarded wrapper, unlike here, where in spite of efforts by local authorities many roads are a disgrace. Tax may well cover the cost of removing chewing gum, but what about take-aways and pet food, much of which finishes up in public areas. Our environment will only improve when we take pride in our surroundings and that can only come from a change of attitude. Schools are the best starting point, make it "Cool to be Clean"
J Rutherford, Ipswich

I'm completely fed up with this, only last week someone had decided to get rid of their gum by sticking it onto a wall on the underground, as I brushed past I ruined my coat. There should be an on the spot fine, makers have put notices on packs of gum for years with no effect, walking down Oxford Street is a disgrace, it looks like the pavements have some nasty disease. Either that or ban it, get people to do something other than chewing the cud all day. I'm not too happy with the current "Nanny State" environment, but if people cannot take responsibility for their own actions or don't care, then it's time for the choice to be taken away from them, at least until they learn a bit of social responsibility. The biggest problem seems to be that people just don't care about the state of the environment around them; I'd rather look after the places where I live, work and go out rather than turn it into a sticky cesspool.
John Sewell, London

It seems strange that the gum stuck to our streets is not currently considered as litter
Nick Rikker, Barcelona, Spain
It seems strange that the gum stuck to our streets is not currently considered as litter. What is it then? The problem with gum and litter in London Underground's stations is partly due to the fact they have removed the bins. However, instead of throwing the gum on the floor, more creative commuters now stick their gum to faces on the photographs alongside the escalators. Maybe this theme could be developed on a larger scale, for example a sculpture or an impressionist mural.
Nick Rikker, Barcelona, Spain

I'm a dedicated gum chewer, 1 piece of sugar-free per day, as it is good for the teeth. I always find a bin, I never spit it out as I think this is a filthy practice. With the resurgence of TB, I think there should be a government campaign to discourage spitting in general.
Vicki, London

Simple, economic liberalism indicates that the polluter should pay the costs of their pollution. Such a system is needed to allow a market economy to allocate resources efficiently. So because individual fines or appropriate community service don't modify behaviour or appear proportionate, then a tax on chewing gum estimated to raise the extra costs of street cleaning is both appropriate and fully justified within a market system. The principle might also be expanded to other forms of throw away consumption like crisp packets, drinks cans, fast/take-out food packaging and other common litter or pollution items.
Martin Cain, Walsall, UK

After living away from London for a while, it's shocking when you visit home to see the amount of gum on the streets. It seems to take just a few days for a street to fill up after it's been cleaned. Time for a some serious fines and proper policing for all type of litter...
Christopher Saul, Dubai

I hate the stuff, never more than on a bus when somebody sits behind you chewing noisily all through your journey. And then the next time you get on the bus you end up sitting in said person's gum. Singapore has got the right idea, ban the stuff!
Richard Prior, Manchester

Disgusting! Grim! The sooner we start accepting the responsibility for things like this, the sooner we can live in an environment where you don't have to peel the gum off your shoes after shopping in the town centre or after a night out
Julie, Nottingham

On the spot fines should work a treat. Why do so many think it's ok to arrogantly spit their spent gum anywhere except a rubbish bin? And what's wrong with wrapping it up with a bit of paper? I can't understand the mentality behind the selfishness, it hardly takes any effort. Haven't these same people cursed when they've stepped on a 'fresh' sample of the same and got sticky shoes? Grow up, chewers!
MDE, Newcastle, UK

I agree with the proposition to impose a tax of a "penny a packet" to help tackle the problem. The issue comes down to youths mainly (not all I hasten to add) that cannot seem to put the gum in a piece of paper or tissue and then dispose of it in a bin somewhere. Educating society is one solution, but I think people should start being fined if they cannot do their bit to keep the environment clean.
Mohammed Azaad, Birmingham, West Midlands

Chewing gum is a disgusting habit and those who want to chew should have some social conscience and dispose of it properly so that the rest of us don't have to constantly walk on used gum. It is on all the pavements and on buses, trains etc, and looks a mess. I certainly don't want to pay for the clean-up so yes, a tax is definitely justified. 1p is not enough won't discourage people from buying gum, and won't encourage them to dispose of it responsibly.
Holly, Manchester UK

I personally would like to see a ban on gum-sales until the manufacturers come up with a permanent solution to the waste problem which does not rely on the responsibility of people disposing of their gum properly: that will never happen.
Maarten, Reading

Like everything in life, the people who don't care ruin it for us all. Now I, who always throw my gum away properly, have to be taxed!
Tony, UK

Only 1 pence! Should also introduce on-the-spot fines for those that chew gum with their mouth open!
David Vant, Maidstone, Kent

A tax on chewing gum is completely the wrong way to go
Gerwyn Thomas, Vale of Glamorgan
No, I think a tax on chewing gum is completely the wrong way to go. There must be laws against the irresponsible dropping of gum, but the streets must be policed properly to deal with it. Litter is also problem which could be dealt with simultaneously. As a country we have let these standards slip slowly over a number of decades, they must be reintroduced.
Gerwyn Thomas, Vale of Glamorgan

As the UK is now so polluted with edifices commemorating the gross ignorance and lack of taste of our civic leaders, by which I refer to recent "architecture" and "Public Art", I hardly think a few blobs of chewing gum, fag ends, pavement pizzas or unconscious binge drinkers makes much of a difference. Contemporary political fashion has rendered the urban landscape uninhabitable to anyone who cares.
Mark Wilkins, Cardiff Wales

I say treble the cost of chewing gum or even more and try to stop the mess on the pavements - it is disgusting and quite dangerous, I am 88 and got a bit stuck on my shoe and nearly fell. People who disregard it on the pavements should be made to pay in order to learn better manners. Either that or ban it from the shops altogether. If the government can ban certain items from the shops because they could cause danger to the public why not chewing gum?
Mrs Sheila Stubbs, Harrogate, England

In most other areas of life we accept the notion that the 'polluter pays'. With alcohol and tobacco we accept high duties in part because of the damage caused by the product to the individual and society. So charging high duties on gum makes perfect sense. It would lead to a reduction in gum pollution for two reasons: a) raising the price of gum would reduce consumption. b) the duties raised could be used to clear up gum pollution.
Evan, Bristol

Ban the stuff altogether. It has spoilt our city. Also put a block on it entering the country, anyone caught bringing it in will be subject to a fine. No alternative
T. Crawford, Nottingham

Gum is disgusting and it's everywhere on the streets, sometimes I wonder what a paving slab would be like without hundreds of little black circles. I think the time has come to take a strong attitude towards this, as it's not on.
John D, UK

I don't chew much gum but I always found it easier to dispose it when each piece of gum was individually wrapped. Then you had a piece of material to wrap it in. A lot of gum gets sold now with just one piece of packaging for the whole lot so you get your pocket sticky if you don't have a hankie and don't want to drop it. Maybe making that mandatory would keep some gum off the streets.
Gordon, Glasgow

Just do it - no more talk
Nick Spencer, London
It is so depressing to see pavements, often with beautiful stone, covered in chewing gum. Please introduce this tax. Please actually do it - where is the tax on carrier bags? Has this now been lost in some government department think tank? Please, just do it - no more talk.
Nick Spencer, London

If gum chewers can't take on the responsibility to clean up after themselves, then they deserve to have that responsibility forced upon them.
Andrew Marshall, Cambridge, UK

I think it's ridiculous. Yet another case of fining the wrong people. The gum wrappers already have instructions on them i.e. wrap it up and put it in the bin. The only people responsible for this are the those who spit it out in the first place.
Allan, Reading

A tax isn't a solution to the problem. We should ban gum! There are other alternatives like mints, and in any event I'm sure gum manufacturer's would soon find an alternative if they were forced to!
Phil, Cardiff, Wales

What next, a further tax on smoking to clear up the cigarette butts?
Alan Pope, Farnborough

It's a disgusting habit and should be banned. Yet another blot on the landscape.
Chris Cable, Horley

I'm an inveterate gum-chewer but I've never spat it out on the street in my life - to do so is dirty and anti-social. Rather than seeing this as an inherent problem with chewing gum, I'd rather this were treated as a problem of selfish people, and have 'gum squads' fining them on the spot for spitting gum out. But a penny-a-packet tax would also be a reasonable idea, as long as the money is definitely used for getting rid of gum on the streets.
Ricky, Birmingham, UK

Singapore had banned chewing gum altogether for years - threaten gum manufacturers with that kind of sanction and their bio-degradable gum won't be so much of an impossibility!
Richard Dickinson, Hereford

Chewing gum is a major eyesore which blights our cities' streets. It looks disgusting and spoils the environment. I agree that manufacturers should develop a biodegradable gum, because the offenders just don't care and persuading them to be mindful, will be an uphill struggle.
Mark, Sunderland, UK

Well if the government stopped removing bins from public areas as they're a 'security threat' then there might be somewhere for people to put their gum - the further people have to walk to put it in a bin, the less likely they're going to do so
Mike, Cambridge

I would suggest using gum boards put up in the worst offending areas
Joe, Sheffield
The situation has become worse over the past few years, and it is quite disgusting. I would suggest using gum boards put up in the worst offending areas, the gum may then be placed on the board rather than the floor. I have seen these boards put up in Sheffield and then removed, they weren't in the right places and there weren't nearly enough of them... a half hearted attempt at using them at the most! Gum tax is a ridiculous idea though, and more than likely the 'offenders' would just think they are now paying for the privilege of dumping their gum on the pavement.
Joe, Sheffield

In Singapore I believe that gum is illegal, and so it should be here. The sound of someone sat chewing gum incessantly like some mindless bovine chewing the cud is enough to drive anyone insane. Not to mention the millions of black penny like circles over our pavements and pub carpets. Disgusting - Get Rid.
John Whitworth, Leeds

The cause of litter is the people who drop it in the street - I consume the same packaged products as everyone else but I've never felt the need to throw my rubbish on the floor; force litter-louts to spend a month cleaning the streets and you'll soon cure them of their need to drop litter, and clean up into the bargain.
Andy, Edinburgh, UK

I didn't really realise how much of a problem this is for the UK until a recent visit to Singapore. There is hardly any litter at all there. Most noticeable is the absence of gum speckled pavements - most refreshing! I like gum but always make sure I deposit it in a bin or back in the paper wrapper it came from if I'm not near a litter bin.
Kelly Allen, Bristol

Yes, tax the gum! No where seems to be free of discarded gum. I work in a multi use office building and a training company recently moved in. From having no gum problem, the entrance to the building is now covered with hundreds of pieces of discarded gum. Young people just don't care, let them bear the cost of the clean up!
Dee, Wirral

I think that the tax on gum is a really good idea. At a penny a packet its not going to make much difference to those that buy it but it will go some way to paying for the cleaning up. Good thinking.
Lynne, Aberdeen, Scotland

Chewing gum is a foul and disgusting habit. It looks appalling, the aftermath is awful and it contributes to an unhealthy environment. The solution is simple - do what they did years ago in Singapore - ban chewing gum and institute very heavy fines for anyone caught chewing it or selling it. It's a shame the EU has banned the birch, it would be a satisfying penalty for gum-chewers.
Christopher, London - UK

Why not start a 'Bubble Gum Ally' like in San Luis Abispo in California? This is a short narrow ally which encourages everyone to stick their gum on the wall - it is now a tourist attraction and actually looks quite artistic!
Anna, UK

These measures are way overdue
Jamie, Egham
Frankly, these measures are way overdue. Gum is just one form of confectionary and yet it is the only form that litters the streets in this way. What about the cost to school uniforms for all those kids that have ruined their trousers on a piece of gum left underneath a class desk. A tax penny is not nearly enough. One piece of gum can ruined a suit or pair of shoes in just one unfortunate moment. I'd support 100% tax on gum, its nasty stuff.
Jamie, Egham

It's a start in the right direction. But again why don't we just up the tax as well on cigarettes also? It's obviously not high enough now as people are still smoking and leaving their butts on the street! Or why not go the same way as Singapore? That might resolve the problem once and for all? Or maybe why doesn't the government and police actually start enforcing the law for a change?
Davin S. George, London, UK

Not only is it disgusting when you get stuck to a bus seat by someone's discarded gum, but gum chewers look moronic and make disgusting chomping noises. Ban it. Singapore's got the right idea.
IT, London, UK

Totally justified. I don't think 1p is enough, though. Administering the collection and sharing of the proceeds will also cost money. Let's at least make it enough to meet the hidden costs. At the same time, another 10p per packet on cigarettes to meet cleaning costs of removing millions of butts littered every day. Have we lost our civic pride?
Pedro, Dorking, UK

Long overdue. It's a disgusting site that we cannot help but notice as we try not to tread on freshly spat gum in case it remains on the sole of our shoe and then becomes stuck to our carpet when we get home. People who spit their gum on the street are revolting and it's about time this was treated as littering. If I could, I'd ban the stuff altogether.
Mark, Enfield

It's not gum that's the problem, it's the people. I don't see proposals for taxes on cigarettes to be raised even though day in, day out I see people dropping their cigarette butts on the ground.
Menzies, Edinburgh

While I don't think people will complain about a tax on chewing gum which would easily pay for the cleaning of our pavements, surely this is just giving in to letting people drop gum on our streets? A better option must be found as a permanent solution to this problem, else people will just pay their tax without thinking it and drop it on the pavement as normal.
James, Staffordshire, UK

I think it is a disgusting habit anyway and should be banned altogether how come Singapore doesn't have a problem perhaps there should be on the spot fines for people dropping there chewing gum not only on the pavements but they put it under the seats disgusting.
Irene Clabby, Edinburgh

For once, a tax we would welcome. Every time that the council has to pick up branded packaging wrappers (e.g. fast food) they should be able to claim from the seller as well. It would encourage the chains to take responsibility for the mess their patrons cause.
Barrington Johnson, Cambridge, UK

I have no problem with taxing gum to pay for the problems that gum causes. However, time and again we've seen such plans just deliver money to the Chancellor's back pocket and the problem remain.
Bob Campbell, London UK

Taxing gum, especially at the silly level of 1p per pack, will change nothing. Dropping gum is part of the general and selfish litter malaise in the UK, along with rubbish, noise and mobiles. The big job is to educate citizens in the need for responsible consideration of others, and that starts at home, from the cradle up.
Philip Grey, La Manoulie, France

A tax on chewing gum would have little effect on the irresponsible people who spit out their gum on to pavements and other highways. Of course we need to recoup the cost of cleaning up after these 'litter louts'. I object to paying more on my council tax to pay for a quite unnecessary and disgusting habit by the 'chewers'. The better way to finance the cost of this eyesore would be to make the makers of the chewing gum pay for their clean-up cost. Oh, we'll have the usual whine from the manufacturers - that they cannot have any control over their customers; that most chewers are responsible, etc! But perhaps more pressure should be put on them to produce a product that has become a major pollutant. Car manufacturers have accepted their responsibility in attempting to tackle car pollution. Let the gum manufacturers accept their social responsibilities.
Terry, Bath

Good stuff, and while they are at it they should let smokers know that their fag ends do not 'simply disappear' when they drop them on the ground.
Mark Siddall, Bern, Switzerland

I am disgusted by the amount of gum stuck all over our streets and public transport. By all means put a tax on gum to pay for the clean up. But why oh why do people feel it's acceptable to just spit the stuff out where ever they like? I always keep the wrapper the gum was wrapped in and put it in a bin. Seems this is too difficult for people these days.
Alison Cousin, London UK

Taxes, taxes, taxes. Soon we will be taxed for the air we breathe. Just another way for the government to make money and spend it on rubbish like the Millennium Dome. The main problem are all the cars on the roads not to mention all the 4x4's which should not be used in London to take kids to school. They should be trying to tackle the pollution in the air and the cars, not chewing gum!
Joe, London

I always dispose of my chewing gum responsibly, and I am disgusted when others do not show this basic sense of respect for others, particularly when I unwittingly sit or step on someone's disposed gum. However, I cannot help but feel that the proposed tax punishes the responsible gun consumers. Why not heavy fines for people caught throwing away their gum on the street? While impossible for police to catch everybody, a few examples would send a clear message. Responsible gum consumers shouldn't have to bear the burden for the irresponsible ones, especially as health professionals recommend chewing gum after meals if one cannot brush their teeth immediately after.
Herman, London, UK

The lack of discipline and law enforcement is so poor in England unlike Singapore where this problem has been solved will we ever learn?
Ronald, Enfield England

10p a packet on gum would be sensible. This would benefit in two ways. 1) It would raise more than enough tax to clean up any mess 2) Making the packet more expensive would discourage the use therefore making less mess.
Colin Johnson, Worthing

I think there should be a tax on chewing gum, it really does make our streets look dreadful. However, I have just walked to the next village and back, a distance of 4 miles and I always take a plastic bag with me to pick up litter on the way, two bags full and all sweet paper, coke cans etc, should we be trying to educate the children too at school, children do seem to take on many environmental issues and they can teach their parents.
Estelle Smith, Barnt Green, Worcestershire

The lack of grubby gum stains on the streets is so noticeable in places like Singapore
David Burlinson, Sydney, Australia

The lack of grubby gum stains on the streets is so noticeable in places like Singapore, I am amazed this has taken so long. We long ago started putting pressure on fast food restaurants to keep the streets clean near their premises and we fine oil companies and the like for polluting the environment. Why should the gum companies not be held responsible for the mess their product makes? Perish the thought that Joe public could be responsible! When you think of it, it is a sad reflection on us that such measures need to be taken.
David Burlinson, Sydney, Australia

Tax on gum? Why not just fine the offenders, after all, littering is on offence! There are also a few crisp packets and chocolate bar wrappers on the floor in Reading - are we going to have taxes on these items too? I don't see why I should have to pay for other yobs' behaviour!
Claire, Reading, Berkshire

Target the offenders instead
Bob, Reading, UK
At the risk of sounding like I support the big brother attitude that seems to prevail over modern society, I feel that inconsiderate slobs who are too lazy to dispose of their gum in a garbage bin should be heavily fined. Why target the chewing gum manufacturers? Gum isn't bad for you like cigarettes are, so target the offenders instead. What a stupid society we live in when proper blame is assigned to those who least deserve it!
Bob, Reading, UK

The best way to deal with gum problem is to have enough litter bins outside the sweetshops, town centres and other important. Best of all, it's good to bring on fixed penalty for offenders just like in Singapore!
Rohan, Birmingham, West Midlands

Living right in the centre of London - the gum problem is a huge eyesore - its absolutely revolting - it gets stuck to shoes clothes furniture and pavements - The gum chewers look like gormless herds of cows chewing the cud. Huge amounts of Camden's Council Tax is directed at scrapping it off the pavements around Tottenham Ct Road and Piccadilly - don't tax gum - ban it
Jane, London

I read of a method for removing gum from 'sidewalks' when working in the States. It uses a machine that blasts each blob with liquid nitrogen, taps them while frozen to break them up, then vacuums up. It's probably not cheap, but a 1p tax on each packet might pay for the equipment and trained operators needed. Of course, the stuff shouldn't be there in the first place. How can folk be so unhygienic, and so unconcerned about the environment?
Colin Berry, Antibes, France

I have never noticed this to be much of a problem, especially compared with all of the other litter, cigarette butts and dog mess in the streets, surely it would be fairer to heavily fine anyone found dropping any form of litter. It just looks to me like yet another form of sneaky taxation by the government which they hope nobody notices.
Mike, Surrey

The streets of Newport town centre are an absolute disgrace. Aren't the council allowed to ban town centre shops from selling it? I buy chewing gum regularly but would have no problem with that. Just looking at the pavements outside several clubs in the town it's obvious that their customers are partially (ir)responsible. These clubs should be fined and forced to clear it up!
Scott, Newport, South Wales

Gum on the streets makes urban centres look like they have been bombed by low-flying pigeons. Numerous councils go to the trouble of putting down attractive paving, only for it to be almost completely covered in this urban acne. Like most things today, the responsibility lies with the individual, but our current society seems to be very good at absolving individuals of that responsibility. If you've got something sticky that's been in your mouth, don't drop it in a public place where we all have to tread and that we all pay for. Taxing the manufacturers is a little bit unfair as it's only the carelessness of individuals that causes the problem, not the gum per se. As for a solution, I believe there are things called "bins" that may be of help.
T Coates, Farnham, UK

The simplest course of action is as in the US, make the product manufacturer and distributors responsible for the environmental and social impact of their products they sell. Wrigleys can then be successfully prosecuted/sued for the costs of cleaning up their products despoiling our environment. If it costs 150m to clean up chewing gum (where do these numbers come from?) then if the market for gum is 258m, it implies a significant price rise!
Mike, Brighton, UK

UK gum sales are worth 258m a year, and the cost to clean it up is 150m a year. If a pack of gum is about 30p, that's about 860 million packs sold each year. A tax of 1p per pack would only bring in 8.6m each year - that's less than 6% of the annual cleaning bill! To recoup the full costs, the tax would have to be more like 17p a pack - a 56% increase in prices!
Either gum will be priced out of existence, or better education of consumers is required. Alternatively, a better way of disposal is called for. Whilst the sticks of gum style packs have wrappers which can be used to dispose of the gum afterwards, the popular 'pieces' of gum style packs don't, thereby requiring the consumer to find something else to wrap it in, or get it stuck to one's fingers as they put it in a bin. More likely they just spit it out.
David Hearn, Guildford, UK

Why not just ban gum? It serves no useful purpose whatsoever and so it's loss would be of no consequence - and we'd save 150m a year.
Mathew, London

By gum, it'd be great to see it off our streets, not stuck under tables or cinema chairs - I'm not a chewer, so I think they should levy a 10p tax per packet - why not?
Pav, London UK

Those who produce it cannot shirk the responsibility for cleaning the mess it leaves
Paul Rouse, London
The streets are covered with chewing gum and cigarette refuse. Those who produce it cannot shirk the responsibility for cleaning the mess it leaves. After all, new legislation will soon force electronic manufacturers to pay towards disposal of old equipment. The large lack of bins or places to dispose of gum (other than ad posters on the tube) in London certainly contributes to the problem. Why not replace some of the ad spaces with boards to stick gum?
Paul Rouse, London

Just stop selling the horrible stuff. I have seen people spit this muck out even in shopping centres, stuck in lift carpets etc. I wonder what they would say if I spat this muck out on their carpet or on their front path or spat it into their garden.
Anon, London

I hate it! If someone drops litter they can get fined, and I'd make it the same for chewing gum and spent cigarettes!
Andy G.M. Wood, UK (London)

It's not just on the pavements and streets that there's a problem, it's the idiots that stick it to the underside of every table I ever sit at in a pub or a club, it's filthy and disgusting. There's no problem with chewing gum, in fact it's apparently good for you. But use a bin for goodness sake.
Donald, Reading

I hate chewing gum on pavements. It's all about lack of respect when people just drop it on the floor so education is the way to go and spot fines. So taxing the gum to pay for this is probably the way to go.
Jo, Manchester

Manufacturers of gum do not encourage people to litter. I think people who litter should take responsibility for their actions. People who are caught littering should have to pay a fine and perform community service by removing gum and litter from the streets. An extra tax on gum is not going to change the way people behave. People need to realise that their actions will result in an unpleasant consequence before they change the way they behave... especially in a country such as this, where there is no respect for authority figures.
Chantel, UK

It's not just the spitting of chewing gum that's the problem - it's the spitting full stop. Don't people realise how many diseases can be transmitted that way? It really is disgusting to go to our major cities and see people spitting on the pavement, even during the daytime, without receiving any censure or disapproval from passers-by.
Brian Hastings, Andover

I have no idea why people drop their gum and create this disgusting litter. As a constant gum-chewer, I always wrap gum in tissue or paper before getting rid of it, that's no hardship. Please do not tax me for others' thoughtlessness. Why not force the manufacturers to wrap each piece of gum in a foil as some of them are packaged? There would be even less excuse for people dropping it then.
R Grist, Bath, England

I was in London last week-end and I was appalled by the quantity of gum spat on the pavement - in some areas there seemed to be more gum than paving-slab visible. It makes London and England appear to be a land of slobs! On-the-spot littering fines for gum-spitters is what is needed, plus a tax on gum to help to pay for policing it.
Jeremy Hubbard, Ipswich, Suffolk, England

Discarded gum makes streets look unkempt and dirty. Leeds City Square was repaved last year costing millions. It is now covered in discarded gum. Tax the gum and fine the gum and other litter discarders. It is that simple because why should council tax payers pay to clean up discarded gum.
Patrick Cunningham, Leeds Yorkshire

The idea is sound, but then aren't you just paying for someone else to clean it up for you. A cynic might say you may as well throw it on the floor, as you've paid to have it cleaned up
Mark, Northampton

Filthy habit, people who chew gum always look a bit yobbish. Though normally against tax I would suggest a tax out of all proportion i.e. 10p not 1p might hit sales and persuade manufacturers to do more to overcome the problem. Better still, as in some countries like Malaysia ban it all together.
Ray Stone, Nottingham

Gum may create 9m cleaning bill
20 Jan 05 |  London
Chancellor urged over gum tax
25 Feb 04 |  Scotland

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