Tobacco companies could reportedly be forced to pay for cleaning up cigarette butts that are discarded in the street under new environmental regulations in Spain.
The new rules will come into force on Friday and are part of a broader set of initiatives designed to combat waste and increase rates of recycling, The Guardian reports.
It also includes a ban on things such as single-use plastic cutlery and plates, plastic straws, and reducing plastic packaging on food items.
Cigarette companies will be required to educate the public about not throwing their finished cigarettes on the floor in public spaces. The cost of the clean-ups or how it will be implemented have not yet been revealed.
One study has suggested that the total bill for tobacco companies could top €1bn (£882,000). Any potential cost cigarette companies incur is expected to be passed onto the consumer, providing another incentive for smokers to quit.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) almost a fifth of every adult and adolescent in Spain smokes and that the health, economic and environmental impact of tobacco use in the country is “substantial”.
The country has already made moves to try and limit smoking in public areas with 525 beaches (17.5% of the total) declared smoke-free in 2021.
The WHO said: “The benefits to beach smoking bans are extensive. They not only help decrease second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke, which causes more than 1.2 million premature deaths per year on a global scale, but also reduce litter, prevent harm to the environment caused by cigarette butts and improve amenities.”
The Spanish campaign group Nofumadores.org has called for the banning of selling tobacco to those born after 2007 and the government take steps to reduce the prevalence of smoking to 5 per cent of society in 2030.
Raquel Fernández, president of Nofumadores.org, said: “The time has come to consider the progressive abolition of the sale of tobacco as an objective, starting with those born after 2007, to ensure that its consumption is residual in Spanish society”.