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Last Updated:  Sunday, 6 April, 2003, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Company fears chewing gum crackdown
Chewing gum
Wrigley has sales worth more than 300m a year
A Devon-based company could be affected if the government goes ahead with a crackdown on chewing gum.

Wrigley, in Plymouth, currently has annual sales in excess of 300m.

But councils in Devon spend thousands of pounds clearing gum from the streets every year.

Gum-free zones or a cleaning levy are two proposals being considered by the government.

However, Wrigley says a gum-free zone would not work, and a cleaning levy would inevitably result in a rise in prices.

Wrigley spokeswoman Jo Hartop said: "Banning gum is not going to solve the problem.

"It will actually affect people who just enjoy chewing gum for the pleasure it brings and the dental benefits it produces.

Cleaning gum off the streets
Councils are spending heavily on street cleaning
"The majority of those people dispose of it carefully, so this would really be punishing people who do the right thing.

"What we need to focus on are those people who are doing the wrong thing and ensure that they end up doing the right thing when they finish with their gum."

Companies are being pressed to develop a less sticky product and millions of pounds are rumoured to being spent on creating a bio-degradable gum.

Exeter is to spend 7,000 on removing gum in the city centre this month, while a similar project by Barnstaple Town Council is costing 2,000.

But many councils, including Plymouth, say they cannot afford it.

Research shows the gum usually re-appears within six months anyway.

If manufacturers do not agree to a voluntary code, a gum tax could form part of the government's new Anti-Litter Bill due to be published in the autumn.

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