Smoking Banned at Beaches Around the Country

A new rash of legislation is beginning to affect beaches around the country. On the heels of successfully passing smoking bans in buildings, cities are now turning their eyes to outdoor spaces. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF), as of January 5, 2010, 92 cities or counties in the U.S. have already banned smoking on their public beaches and many more have restricted smoking to certain areas of the beach.


Proponents of smoke-free beaches point to butts discarded by smokers as a reason to approve the ban

Many beachfront tourist destinations have smoke-free beaches. Communities along the New Jersey shore led the way with the first legal bans in 2001. In California, numerous beaches from San Diego to Los Angeles are smoke-free. In 2009, Maine became the first State to ban smoking on all its beaches and began promoting tourism with the slogan “Breathe easy. You’re in Maine.”

Now it appears that New Hampshire, which already has laws banning indoor smoking in public buildings, grocery stores, public conveyances, hospitals, restaurants and bars, may become the next state to join the ban on beach smoking. Elected officials sponsoring the NH legislation point primarily to the dangers of secondhand smoke as justification for the measure, but also are concerned about the issue of litter and fire hazards in outdoor spaces.

ANRF points out that the trash created by cigarette butts tossed on the ground is a significant environmental problem and a leading source of pollution in parks and beaches, since they contain the same chemicals and toxins as the cigarettes themselves. Filters are considered a particular problem, as they are made from cellulose acetate, a non-biodegradable plastic that can degrade into tiny pieces but never completely disappears. They are hazardous and highly toxic to fish, birds, plus pets and young children if ingested. Opponents of the ban insist that the State’s motto: “Live Free or Die,” should protect their right to smoke on the beach.

Photo Credit: shnnn on Flickr

Article by Barbara Weibel at Hole In The Donut Travels

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