Paris war on cigarette stubs fizzles to a slow burn
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A campaign launched exactly a year ago to install special cigarette extinguishers across Paris and to fine smokers who drop their butts in the streets is a long way from coming to fruition.
A year after Paris announced plans to cut down on the vast number of cigarette ends littering the streets, city Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, clutching a stub and wondering where to put it, was forced to admit that a project to install special extinguishers across the city appeared to have fizzled out.
Parisians, known for their love of tobacco, smoke their way through 315 tonnes of cigarettes a year.
And as any visitor to the City of Light knows, an unhealthy proportion of the stubs find their way onto pavements and gutters, with unsightly and malodorous results.
Last October, Delanoë said he wanted to follow the Singapore model and penalise litterbugs who flick their finished cigarettes onto the ground with 35-euro spot fines.
He couldn’t do this, he said, without giving the city’s smokers a viable alternative in the form of at least 10,000 extinguishers – corrugated ceramic pads on which smokers can stub out – attached to bins across Paris.
But as he opened a new market in the city’s 14th district last weekend, Delanoë finished his smoke and looked in vain for an ashtray, muttered “Dammit, no extinguishers yet”, and was forced to crush the butt underfoot and toss the result into a nearby bin.
The city has barely started to install extinguishers and a new model has yet to be approved by the police, according to a city hall spokesman.
The spokesman insisted that the plans are going ahead and that at least 5,000 extinguishers“should” be in place by February, with the rest to be installed by the end of 2014.
In the meantime, Parisians are being “warmed up” to the use of the new extinguishers with nearby posters urging them to keep the streets clear of cigarette ends, he said.
The fines will start being applied in mid-2014, safely after the local elections that Delanoë hopes will keep him in charge of a city brimming with smokers, like himself.