MEXICO CITY -- Authorities are poised to get tough on littering in Mexico. A new tax on chewing gum manufacturers was recently proposed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which is set to come into power following recent elections.
The PRI has proposed a 50% tax on chewing gum to aid in the cleanup of discarded gum. PRI deputy Juan Manuel Diez Francos told El Universal, a local paper, "It's shameful and upsetting to see so much chewing gum stuck to benches and streets."
Diez says the government spends an average of 2 pesos and 50¢ on every piece of gum it removes from public areas. The cheapest pack of gum, or chicle as it is known in Mexico, costs only 50¢.
Mexico produces 92,000 tons of gum annually, and Mexicans chew an average 2.5 pieces a day. The proposed tax, according to officials, would go a long way toward the cleanup effort.
The gum tax proposal has drawn some sharp disapproval from the world press. With drug violence in the country a continuing problem, which has claimed 60,000 lives, critics see chewing gum litter as a trivial concern.
Mexico is not the only country considering a chewing gum tax as a litter deterrent. Ireland is considering an 11% chewing gum tax, as well. And a ban on the sale of gum in Singapore was enacted in 1992. It's considered illegal in China, too.