Restaurants and bars could be on the hook to clean up after smokers

A motion going to city council this week could make it a requirement for business owners to clean up cigarette butts outside their establishment.

“It’s pretty ugly out there on our public streets,” Ana Bailao, councillor for Ward 9, Davenport, told Metro Morning on Monday.

Bailao, whose motion Keeping our Streets Clean from Cigarette Butt Litter is being brought forward Wednesday, said she’s been contacted by people in her ward who are bothered by seeing piles of butts on busy streets this time of year.

“The snow is melting and we see these piles of cigarette butts all over,” she said.

“As a city we can come together and do better.”

The new regulations would also require businesses to install receptacles near the sidewalk where patrons can dispose of their cigarette butts.

Bailao is pointing her finger at restaurants and bars, arguing they see a “higher than normal consumption of cigarettes” out front of their buildings.

“Basically you agree to have these cleaned up, the same way that you agree to have your garbage stored properly and away from the public right of way,” she said.

Some responsibility should be put on the person who litters, Bailao said, adding there is “some space for a better attitude” among many smokers.  But she also stresses the need to offer smokers “the conditions to have that happen.”

City launches awareness campaign

Earlier this month the city launched an anti-litter campaign targeting cigarette butts, calling them a “big problem.”

Cigarette filters are made of a synthetic microfibre that takes years to break down. Experts have found that they are one of the most littered items in the world.

There’s also a misconception among many smokers that cigarette butts will biodegrade, Robert Orpin, director of collections and litter operations for the City of Toronto, told CBC Toronto at the time of the campaign launch.

“There’s this thought out there that people flick a cigarette butt on the ground and it’s mysteriously going to disappear. It doesn’t happen,” Orpin said.

Instead, Orpin said the butts end up making their way into Lake Ontario.

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