The Litter Pollution Act 1997 provides the statutory framework to combat litter pollution. Under the Act, the primary management and enforcement responsibility rests with Local Authorities, who have a wide range of powers to tackle litter effectively, including "on-the-spot" fines of up to €150 or, on summary conviction, fines up to €4,000, for those who litter.
While rigorous Local Authority enforcement is a part of the solution to littering, I believe that the key to success in tackling litter issues, including cigarette-related litter, is through awareness raising and education. Education for young people, in particular, through the litter module of the Green Schools Programme which my Department supports each year. Since 1997, my Department has also allocated in excess €15.4 million to Local Authorities under the Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS). Under this Scheme, Local Authorities are responsible for selecting suitable anti-litter awareness projects for funding and deciding on the grant allocations in individual cases. In 2017, I increased funding for this scheme by 28% to €885,000 and I will be maintaining this level of funding for 2018.
I am pleased that consecutive annual National Litter Pollution Monitoring Surveys (see www.litter.ie) have shown that the litter situation is generally improving across the country in recent years, so I do not propose at this time to seek a contribution specifically from the tobacco industry.
I assure the Deputy that effective litter prevention and management remains a priority for me.