Last night on the Dennis Miller show, he was making fun of Britain's new proposal to add an extra tax on chewing gum to fund "gum clean up" in the cities and I thought it was pretty funny. So I checked out some articles on it and found that while it seems trivial on the surface, it turns out this is a major problem in London and Edinburgh especially. It costs Britain £150 million (US$250 million) a year to clean gum off their sidewalks. It costs around 3 pence to manufacture a stick of gum but roughly 10 pence to remove it from the street. The new proposal, which is likely to be passed, would levy a 1 pence tax on each pack of chewing gum, which is forecast to provide £9m a year and would go directly to local councils and public authorities.
The police are unable to effectively enforce littering fines on all the millions of people who spit out their gum as they walk down the streets. This problem is so widespread and unavoidable, it seems like a greater solution would be to dish the total cost of clean up onto the gum chewers and charge a 15-17 pence tax per pack. This also potentially discourages people from buying the gum in the first place. This raises the question, who is responsible for this problem? Is it the gum chewers, the gum manufacturers or the government?