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PRI legislator demands gum tax

November 27, 2012

A PRI lawmaker called for a tax on chewing gum this week, citing the high costs of removing used gum from public places.

PRI Deputy Juan Manuel Diez Francos proposed a tax of 15 centavos per piece of gum sold or imported in Mexico, citing similar measures taken in China, Spain and the United Kingdom in recent years. He also suggested fines for those found guilty of dropping gum in public.

While the cheapest gum in Mexico is sold for 50 centavos, it costs the government 2.50 pesos to clean each piece of gum left on sidewalks, squares, sculptures and statues. The Mexico City government currently spends 2,800 pesos per day removing gum from the streets and plazas of the capital alone, Diez said. The government has also invested 50,000 dollars in ten machines designed specifically for removing gum from public places, he added.

However, taxing gum could hurt those at the very bottom of Mexico’s socio-economic ladder. Many homeless people, including young children, make a living off hawking gum on the streets. Increased prices could mean fewer sales and a drop in their already minimal income.

Citing data from Kraft Foods, Diez said Mexico is the world’s second biggest consumer of gum, behind the United States. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the average Mexican consumes 2.5 pieces of gum per day, and at least three out of ten Mexicans buy gum once a day.

INEGI data also shows that Mexico produces over 92,000 tons of gum worth more than 420 million dollars per year.

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