Fed up with filthy streets, Paris is cracking down on smokers

Paris, we have a problem.
Paris, we have a problem.
Image: Reuters/Thomas White
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Nothing ruins a romantic moonlit stroll in Paris like streets strewn with cigarette butts and the telltale squelch of stepping in dog poop.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has said “Ça suffit!” (that’s enough) and is escalating efforts to clean up the cigarette butts and dog droppings that litter her city’s streets. Starting next month, people caught discarding butts, urinating in public, or failing to clean up after their dogs will be hit by a €68 ($77) fine per offense.

Tourists who turn up in Paris expecting dreamy scenes from the cinema are sometimes disappointed when confronted with how dirty the city’s streets can be. The city estimates that 350 metric tons of cigarettes are flicked onto the streets every year. Some Japanese expats were so disgusted they formed a club that regularly takes to the streets to clean up the trash for the thousands of tourists who visit the city each year.

The city launched a similar campaign in 2012, but it was stubbed out before making much of an impact. The city government recently rebooted its effort to improve its “dirty reputation” (link in French), deploying 30,000 new litter bins outfitted with ashtrays. But the stiffer fines, hiked from €35 per infraction, are the most serious escalation in Paris’s ongoing war on waste.