Retailers and suppliers have slammed proposals to introduce a levy on gum to fund clean-up costs, claiming they are impractical and unfair.
A campaign launched by Westminster Council and backed by councils in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast is calling on chewing gum manufacturers to contribute 1p per pack to help councils foot the costs of cleaning up.
However, the Biscuit Cake Chocolate and Confectionery Association said that companies such as Wrigley were already working with the government and other bodies on litter education programmes and therefore should not have to pick up the tab.
A spokeswoman added: "We believe that education, rather than a tax on manufacturers or the 28 million chewers of gum, many of whom chew for the health benefits it delivers, is a better way to tackle gum litter."
The Association of Convenience Stores also criticised the chewing gum clean-up proposals.
Public affairs and communications manager James Lowman said: “The concern retailers have is how they would administer something like this.”
Westminster City Council, which this week hosted a “chewing gum summit” with councillors from several other cities, claimed each stick of gum costs 3p to make but 10p to clean up.
Alan Bradley, cabinet member for street environment at Westminster Council, said: “Obliterating gum from the streets after it has been thoughtlessly spat out is like painting the Forth Bridge, a never-ending effort.”
The move is part of a high-profile campaign to get tough on gum by the council,.
It is also backing a Private Member’s Bill to ban its sale in the capital.