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Discarded cigarette butts sit along a public flower bed wall in London on May 9, 2017.Russell Boyce/Reuters

Britain is considering a plan to force big tobacco companies to pay the 40 million pound ($55 million) annual cost of cleaning up discarded cigarette butts.

“We are exploring how cigarette companies can be held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge of litter created by their products,” junior environment minister Rebecca Pow said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ministers are considering regulating the industry to ensure it pays the full disposal costs of cigarette litter.

The ministry cited research which showed that smoking related litter is the most prevalent form of litter in England, making up 68 per cent of all littered items and found on around 80 per cent of surveyed sites.

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