News / Toronto

Cigarette butts could soon be costly for Toronto's bars, restaurants

Toronto has adopted new regulations that require restaurants, bars and other entertainment facilities to take care of the sidewalks surrounding their establishments.

It's a chargeable offence in the city of Toronto to throw litter on public or private property, and new regulations are making it mandatory for business owners to provide receptacles for patrons who smoke.

Staff / Torstar News Service Order this photo

It's a chargeable offence in the city of Toronto to throw litter on public or private property, and new regulations are making it mandatory for business owners to provide receptacles for patrons who smoke.

It’s about to be clean up or pay up for Toronto businesses as the city gets serious about cigarette butts on sidewalks.

City council has approved new rules that will require bars, restaurants and nightclubs to install outdoor butt-disposal bins and cleanup butts left lying around. Businesses that don’t comply could face a $300 fine.

Sparks are already flying over the policy.

“For the amount of taxes that they charge us, I don’t know why it’s difficult for the city to take care of cigarette butts on sidewalks,” said Christine Whittick, co-owner of the Football Factory bar at Bathurst and Richmond.

The bar already pays someone to cleanup cigarette butts and other litter near the establishment. And, “we will comply because it’s our obligation,” Whittick said about the new rules.

“But the city needs to know small businesses don’t always have the money to obey everything they ask for.”

Things like cigarette buts and discarded chewing gum is a growing problem in the city. The amount of what’s dubbed “little litter” increased by almost 50 per cent between 2012 and 2012, according to an audit from the solid waste management.

More than 9,000 litter and recycling bins along Toronto streets have dedicated receptacles to capture cigarette butts.

Despite city-led campaigns like this, people continue to litter streets with cigarette butts.

City of Toronto

Despite city-led campaigns like this, people continue to litter streets with cigarette butts.

Still, cigarette butts accounted for more than 25 per cent of “little litter” on streets in 2014. 

Carleton Grant, director of policy at the city’s licensing and standards department, said efforts will be made to advise businesses about the new rules before fines are levied.

“This is also about educating the general public about the environmental dangers of littering,” he said, noting cigarette filters aren’t biodegradable and it can take up to 12 years before they break down naturally.

Getting the public on board could help the city’s overall goal of reducing litter — and help businesses keep things neat and tidy.

After all, “bars aren’t smoking,” Grant said. “It’s their patrons.”

More on Metronews.ca