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Postcard from... Paris


Last week, a war was declared in Paris. The mayor has taken it upon his council to wipe out all cigarette butts that litter his city's streets.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is intent on enforcing a €68 (£54) fine on every man, woman or child lazy enough to overlook one of the 10,000 bin-top ashtrays he plans to install.

No smoker will be spared as every bin will be equipped with an ashtray. "We cannot reprimand people if we don't offer an alternative" Delanoë explained.

There is already a €35 (£28) fine in place for dropping cigarette butts, yet this has hardly been policed due to the lack of public ashtrays for smokers' – an issue which should be resolved by the installation of so many new bins.

Since the 2008 enactment of the smoking ban in public places, including bars, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs, the Parisian streets have become busied with smokers and strewn with the debris their habit entails – 315 tonnes of it being amassed annually.

Serge Orru, a former Director General of WWF, has estimated that 30 billion cigarette butts fall on French soil every year courtesy of 14 million French smokers. It is his belief that smokers should tell each other where to discard their butts, and Parisians' lack of desire to do so has exacerbated the problem.

It seems the nonchalant stereotype of the Parisian, puffing on a cigarette, will now have to demonstrate a bit more responsibility when it comes to the disposal of their habit's debris. Or risk the wrath of a gendarme and his stern gesture to the nearest "poubelle".