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A 50c tax on chewing gum might hit some people particularly hard, but businesses reckon it could stop litter. Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
Sticky Situation

Anti-litter lobby backs 50c tax on chewing gum

Irish Business Against Litter says it supports Phil Hogan’s proposal for a gum tax, warning that any tax needs to be steep.

AN ANTI-LITTER LOBBY has welcomed proposals to impose a 50c anti-litter tax on packets of chewing gum – after minister Phil Hogan said he had not ruled out the prospect.

Hogan told a new awareness campaign yesterday that he had not completely dismissed the idea of bringing in a tax on gum, in order to help fund the difficult operation of removing it from pavements and other areas.

The minister was speaking at the launch of an anti-littering awareness campaign by the Gum Litter Taskforce, at which it was revealed that the amount of chewing gum litter had fallen by 57 per cent in the last four years.

The taskforce is an industry body funded by Wrigley and Cadbury Kraft, who are putting €9.6 million into the anti-litter campaign over the next three years.

Irish Business Against Litter said it welcomed the idea of a tax on gum, but warned that the tax needed to be relatively severe in order to make a “meaningful contribution” to the cost of removing gum.

“Our research shows strong support for such a tax, not least among local authorities,” said IBAL chairman Tom Cavanagh.

“In Killarney, €300,000 was spent on new pavements two years ago. These are already covered from end to end by gum, and frustrated residents and business owners are calling for an outright ban on the product.”

The industry itself has reportedly argued that awareness campaigns such as the ones operated in the last few years are more effective at countering gum littering than putting a straightforward tax on the product.

IBAL has said it may be more sensible to allow biodegradable gum to be exempt from VAT, as this could encourage manufacturers to sell it on a larger scale.

A town councillor in Trim has previously argued the case for the town to become the first in Ireland to outlaw the sale of gum, saying the model of Singapore – where gum has been banned since 1994 – should be followed in Ireland.

Read: Councillor wants Trim to become Ireland’s first chewing gum-free town >

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