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'Butts should be next': city councillor

Karen Holst · 20 Aug 2011, 10:22

Published: 20 Aug 2011 10:22 GMT+02:00

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"There should be a fine for those who throw cigarette butts on the street. The law should be stricter," Ulla Hamilton, city councillor for traffic in Stockholm, told DN on Friday.

Accoding to the report, Sweden’s controversial littering law grants police the power to fine offenders on the spot but the Riksdag chose to excuse from penalty those who toss bus tickets, cigarette butts and chewing gum.

While the clean-up of litter costs communities billions of kronor each year, the infant law has reportedly had little effect.

More than 90 percent of Sweden’s municipalities believe that the rate of littering has remained at the same level as before the law was enforced in early July, according to DN.

And some believe that Parliament’s move to exclude certain litterbugs will further damage the law’s effectiveness.

“Allowing some to litter will make it harder to enforce the law. Throwing cigarette butts on the street opens it up to a collective behavior that says that it is okay to litter,” Joakim Brodahl from the Keep Sweden Clean (Håll Sverige Rent), told the DN.

Furthermore, police reportedly rarely fine offenders.

“For police, it is a priority issue. We have to see the crime occur and the public will not accept that we keep watch from park shrubberies,” Bengt Svensson, a police commissioner from the National Police, Rikspolisstyrelsen, told DN.

Irene Oskarsson, a member of the Parliament's environment committee, said that the police still have a few resources to prioritize this type of crime.

“But the law is good,” Oskarsson said to DN.

Svensson, however, defends the pace of the litter law’s effect.

Story continues below…

“This kind of laws will take time before it penetrates the public. This has been the case with the helmet requirement for minors cyclists and the ban on urinating in public places,” police commissioner Svensson said to the paper.

The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation (Stiftelsen Håll Sverige Rent), has previously tried to identify which groups of people clutter the most.

“Our general profile shows that there are many who litter, but especially male smokers aged 15-19 years are characterized by frequent littering,” said Brodahl to DN.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

13:04 August 20, 2011 by Alohart
When I was growing up in the U.S. in the late '40's and '50's, litter was a real problem. I recall people routinely throwing drink bottles, candy wrappers, etc., out of moving cars. As a result, roadsides were littered with trash. Ladybird Johnson's anti-litter campaign when LBJ was President really seemed to work. Although anti-litter laws exist, I don't recall punitive measures being part of the change in the behavior of most U.S. citizens. It occurred because of education, greater awareness, and a growing appreciation of surroundings without trash. It's time that something like this is tried in Sweden where the littering behavior of many Swedes, maybe especially young Swedes, is surprising and appalling.
16:17 August 20, 2011 by countrysidedrive
Cigarette butts must be included. It is litter. Litter is litter there is no such thing as good liter.
16:35 August 20, 2011 by eddie123
the law is not worth the paper it is written on. how do you enforce a litter law? what is needed is an awareness/educational campaign - speaking tours, advertisements, commercials, billboards, and community advocacy. you can't have the police on every street corner to enforce this law. it is pretty much a useless exercise. if a no litter campaign fails, government can introduce additional taxes on commodities that yield high litter. the proceeds from the taxes can then be used to pay folks to clean up the mess. when cigarettes cost more and take away foods cost more, people will behave.
16:45 August 20, 2011 by rybo1
Some years ago, while moving to Huddinge, from Kil, A trip had to make many times, I was amazed at the beauty and cleanliness of Sweden on those moving trips. On one trip our rented van broke down on the highway and we had to wait for service for quite some time. While waiting, I couldn´t believe as to how clean the roadside was. No bottles or papers, just grass.

In America, where I grew up, the roadsides are basically garbage bins. you'll find bottles, cans, papers and an occasional toilet seat. So, Swedes by nature, love nature and most do not liter.

Getting to the point, I'm a smoker and when ever a cigarette receptacle is available I'll use it. I don't like snuffing out my butt on the ground. However, there seems to be very few cigarette receptacles around these days. Huddinge Centrum is a perfect example. So, take the burden off of the police and place many more cigarette receptacles, almost all smokers would use them.
18:04 August 20, 2011 by isenhand
"Critical voices are now calling for a sharpening of the rules"

It doesn't work. Solution: let's do more of the same!

I think they have tackled the problem the wrong way around! When the system fail; design a new system!
07:58 August 21, 2011 by hereandnow
There is no way to enforce a litter law without resorting to ludicrous tactics. Where I am from we have a $75 fine attached to littering and yet you will find bags of garbage on the sides of the roads.
19:21 August 21, 2011 by Douglas Garner
This seems like a good opportunity to justify a limited purpose enforcement group. A bit like beat cops, they could walk around larger town centers and shopping districts issuing tickets. On weekend evenings, they could also help reduce the debris left by the late night party crowd and discourage personal street crime.
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