Stockholm Decides to Consider, Maybe, Possibly Fining People for Cigarette Littering – Half Win

Two weeks ago, the Moderaterna Traffic and labor commissioner in charge of sanitation in Stockholm, Ulla Hamilton, wrote an op-ed piece in the newspaper Aftonbladet about cigarette littering {cigaretfimpar} and the need to curtail butt litter.

Basically, she wrote littering is bad and that the city needs to pass a law that both makes it illegal to dump cigarette butts but also considers it a finable offense.

Currently, there is only the Stockholm litter law which went into effect last summer. All those beer cans and engångsgrill trashed in the parks became an offense. But in typical Swedish fashion, not one person has been fined for leaving their crap out in public.

To me, this is a big DUH. The fact that Stockholm has never passed a law against littering until last year and even then, avoided placing cigarette butts as ‘litter,’ astonishes me. No wonder most parks in the city are a dump.

In 2010, Stockholm announced it would be working with the tobacco companies to clean cigarette butts off the street with nifty vacuum cleaners. Instead of having the people be responsible for the crap they throw on the sidewalks, the city offers a cleaning service to deal with the problem.

Seriously, the city needs to get with it. I am tired of living in the supposed “most clean city of Europe” when nothing is done to make the people be responsible for the shit they throw on the streets.

Here is a plan I support:

  • Make it illegal to dump cigarette butts and make it finable civil offense (note: not criminal).
  • Hire police officers that would be in charge of giving citations. I am guessing this is revolutionary idea considering in the three years I have lived next to Polishuset, I have NEVER ONCE seen a traffic officer issuing tickets. Hell, I have seen a traffic officer twice in my entire time living in Stockholm. They’re as good as severely endangered species.
  • Have police make occasional sweeps in parks and public places to fine people litter cans, garbage, and cigarette butts.
  • Provide more garbage cans, especially, small litter baskets to accomodate cigarette butts.
  • Blitz the city with campaigns and education to inform citizens: 1. littering is BAD; 2. littering is city offense; 3. cigarette butts are disgusting and destroy the environment.

Fast facts about Stockholm litter:

The City of Stockholm’s garbage measurement was conducted with the Keep Sweden Tidy and SCB.

  • Cigarette butts account for an average 65 percent of the estimated debris objects in streets and public places in Stockholm.
  • A 2005 survey shows that over 1 billion cigarette butts are thrown on the ground in Sweden each year. This is an increase of 36 percent since 2007.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation will have 23 to 27 litter picking days in 2012.
  • Kindergartens and schools will receive materials about how we take care of our environment and will participate on litter picking days.
  • The City of Stockholm employs 150 sanitation workers to pick up more than 5000 tons of garbage each year.  That is more than 6 kg per Stockholmer.  This includes  chewing gum, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, cigarettes, glass paper, pouch, coffee mugs and much more. 
  • The litter costs SEK 100 million annually to pick up from the streets which instead could have been placed in one of the 11 000 bins found in the city.

What’s really amazing is that kids will be assisting on clean up days.  Not adults or adults who smoke and throw the cigarettes on the ground, but kids.  Sure, children should the importance of keeping a clean city but shouldn’t littering adults do the same?

No matter what, there is absolutely no excuse that Stockholmers have the ability to litter without repercussion.

3 thoughts on “Stockholm Decides to Consider, Maybe, Possibly Fining People for Cigarette Littering – Half Win”

  1. Solution!
    1. Find out what the propsoed cost of rolling out and implementing the specific cigaretfimpar vacum cleaner programme would cost yearly.
    2. Propose to the tabbacco industry representatives that they have the option to role out a campaign to stop the littering of cigarette butts or face an increase in VAT which would cover the costs of the goverments vacuming programme.
    This way people who smoke have the opertuniity to change their habits… and if they can’t, they will have to fund the cleaning costs themselves.
    I think the worst in when you see small cigarette butt hills forming under peoples balconies and the smoking areas outside buildings… It’s surely not a coincidence that all the cigarettes pile up their? Surely it’s easy to find and fine the suspects in that case?

  2. I have read your blog for a while and it got me thinking about a comic I found about mostly the Scandinavian countries: European, American, Asian, Oceanian and African countries also figure in the comic but not as often as Denmark, Sweden and Norway :)

  3. @SolSara – SATW is one of my favorite comics! I love her caricaturization of the countries and their people.

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