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   DATE: 19 November 2002   AUTHOR: Editor
     
 

Fast food-eaters are being blamed for Britain's increasing rat population (soaring to an estimated 60 million) and are being subjected to an advertising campaign designed to scare them into changing their ways.

Cinemas recently began showing a 30-second advertisement that begins with rodents eating the cast-off remains from human meals thrown away and ends with a couple, sleeping in their bed, unaware of a group of rats on their duvet.

The advert is designed to alert the public to the consequences of Britain's love of fast food and halt the increasing rat population.

The campaign coincides with moves by environmental health officers to work with colleagues worldwide and the World Health Organisation in assessing the international threat posed by rats.

Mild winters and cutbacks in pest control expenditure have also been blamed for the increased problems. So have the consequences of privatising public services and water provision, although there is a national protocol that is meant to overcome ambiguities about where the rat control responsibilities lie.

The new short film will be on TV screens too, punctuated by captions: "The more you drop, the more we eat", "the more we eat, the more we breed" and "the more we breed, the closer we get". Football fans watching stadium screens will see the hard-hitting advertisement during the six-week, 200,000 campaign.

The message is targeted at 18-24-year-olds, particularly young men, thought to be most to blame for the piles of rubbish that attract the pests. Research for the Keep Britain Tidy campaign suggests as many as 5.9 million Britons, some considerably older than the target audience, would be impervious to attempts to fine or name and shame them for littering.

Keep Britain Tidy's director, Sue Nelson, said: "Most people never give a second thought about dropping rubbish, believing life is too short to care about what happens to your trash and that someone from the council will clean it up anyway.

   
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