After a local resident allegedly attempted to shower Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) with cigarette butts, the Taipei City Government announced over the weekend that littering fines for cigarette butts will be raised.
Fines for second-time litterers will be tripled to NT$3,600 with further offences subject to a NT$5,000 fine, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Liou Ming-lone (劉銘龍) said.
Previously, litterers could only be fined NT$ 1,200 per offense, regardless of their record.
Chinese-language media reports said an elderly man surnamed Hung (洪) attempted to throw a bagful of cigarette butts at Ko and his wife, Peggy Chen (陳佩琪), late on Friday night, but was led away by the police.
Sanzhangli Police Station Chief Liu Kuang-heng (劉光恆) said the man had claimed that he was an environmental activist seeking to raise awareness of rampant littering by cigarette smokers and only intended to “show” Ko his bag of butts.
As Hung was apprehended as soon as he pulled out the bag, there were no grounds for pressing charges and he was released later that night, Liu said.
Taipei City Government spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) denied any link between the incident and the new littering fines, saying that cigarette butt littering was a “public issue” that the city had already decided to address.
Liou said his department had been in the process of drafting new measures to target such littering following protests by residents of Xinren (新仁) borough, which encompasses the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區).
The department said cigarette butt littering accounts for more than half the fines it levies.
Patrols of cigarette butt littering “hot spots,” such as the exits of tourist sites, shopping malls and office buildings, will be increased, Liou said.
The department is also coordinating with the Taipei Department of Health and the city government’s Construction Management Office to require that ashtray receptacles be installed at such “hot spots,” he said.
Liou said that while the city government has the power under the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) to unilaterally increase fines without first seeking Taipei City Council approval, the details and timeline of increased enforcement efforts have not been finalized.
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