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12/12/2012

Thou Shalt Not Chew: Governments Join The Battle Against Cleaners’ Worst Nightmare

Whether you’ve gotten into the sticky habit yourself or you’ve just fallen victim to the wrongdoing of someone else; most of us have stepped in or sat on chewing gum, or worse – found it in our hair. While most edible things people want to dispose of seem to find their way to the nearest bin, chewing gum seems to quite literally be sticking around, giving cleaners all around the world – and the policy makers alike, a big headache.

As Mexico has also started to consider making it a matter of the state to exterminate this edible adhesive, let’s take a look at few of the war tactics used – or proposed by different countries so far.

Chewing Gum Ban: Singapore, 1992

Quite possibly one of the most famous governmental sanctions taken out against people who are in favour of the chew-and-stick approach. Improper disposal of gum (such as sticking it under chairs and tables,) was what triggered Singapore’s chewing gum ban. As a result, it is forbidden to sell or import this article of confectionery other than for medical purposes only, and it is prescription-only.

In the defence of the practitioners of this seemingly innocent habit of sticking the gum under surfaces, one must say that it wasn’t the only reason why the Singapore government decided to take action. Discarded gum even after it found its place into mailboxes, keyholes and elevator buttons, but the last straw was drawn when vandals started abusing the metro system and a ban was announced in 1992.

Mexico Chewing Gum Tax (proposed), 2012

For years Mexico, the second largest gum consumer in the world after the U.S. have been battling with this pertinent issue and finally has announced a prospective chewing gum tax. This will mostly affect the manufacturers who could be forced to pay up to 50% tax on top of the actual chewing gum retail price to fund the clean-up of the streets. According to government officials, it costs five times the price of the cheapest gum to clean up one off the street afterwards.

England/Ireland

Sorry to break it to you but when it comes to disposing of the gum after it’s become flavourless or your jaws are finally getting spasms, Britain and Ireland are not exactly setting the best example either. Gum clean-up costs vary from £20,000 to £38,000 per city (excluding London) and it adds up to shocking £150m nationwide. There’s little surprise that Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also sought their own chewing gum tax, which are unsurprisingly opposed by one of the leaders of the industry – Wrigleys, who have suggested replacing the tax with an “educational advertising campaign”.

Finally, there are a few countries that don’t target the gum itself. Disposing of it in a way that could be considered littering can however result in a fine, which in countries like Thailand can be up to $600. Even here in Britain, spitting out your gum can become quite an expensive habit to have. Two years ago Bristol introduced a £75 fine for spitting out gum on the street, whilst an unpaid fine could easily land the offender in a court with the prospect of having to pay up to £2,500.


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