Environmental group appeals with local authorities nationwide to ban smoking on beaches

Environmental group appeals with local authorities nationwide to ban smoking on beaches

An environmental group is appealing with local authorities nationwide to ban smoking on beaches.

The Sandycove Clean Coasts Group is calling on local authorities and the Government to ban cigarette smoking at beaches.

Margaret Brown, group spokesperson said: “Cigarette butts are littering the sea beds and are deadly to marine life.”

Mrs Browne made her comments as Climate Action Week continues.

The local authority area of Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown has some of the country’s most visited beaches including, Seapoint, Sandycove, Killiney and Dalkey.

Globally, countries including Spain, Italy, the south of France, parts of Wales, Australia and Thailand have banned smoking on beaches.

Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) has reported that workers have picked up tens of thousands of cigarette butts from the country’s beaches – making up a third of all beach waste.

Those caught smoking on beaches where it is prohibited could face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 100,000 baht or €2,651.

Cigarettes filters, which contain slow-degrading plastic cellulose acetate, can take up to 10 years to decompose. Approximately, 5.5 trillion cigarettes are sold worldwide each year, with a vast number of the ends discarded into the surrounding environment.

The European Commission has called several times for a ban on smoking in public areas, including urging member counties in 2017 to put policies in place to make public spaces, including beaches and smoke-free.

As part of the trials between 2014 and 2018, 550,000 cigarette ends were collected on the Italian beach of Bibione, which would have otherwise ended up in the sand or sea.

The Venetian eight kilometre stretch of beach receives more than five million visitors annually, making it the fourth most visited beach in the country.

The majority of visitors were in favour of the ban, with 50% supporting a total ban and a further 26% approving of it as long as designated smoking areas were provided.

The project has also been backed by the World Health Organisation and health authorities across Italy.

Mrs Brown continued: “Cigarette butts are an environment scourge by contributing to growing ocean plastic pollution. Marine life is ingesting the butts and suffering immeasurably and posing a major threat to all marine life.

The Government and local authorities must agree to create awareness and take action to protect our seas from dangerous waste and provide a comprehensive framework for marine protection, paving the way for smoke free beaches.

In response Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council said it takes its obligations regarding cleansing and environmental protection very seriously.

“However, at the current time there are no plans to pilot 'smoke free' areas on beaches.”

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton announced in April this year, funding of €3 million to the Anti-Dumping Initiative (ADI) 2019 to support communities around the country.

Since its introduction in 2017 the ADI has provided some €6.6m in funds which has supported over 700 projects throughout the country.

In a statement, the Department explained it is a matter for each local authority to investigate individual instances of littering, including cigarette related litter.

A Department spokesperson added:

"It is also a matter for each local authority to decide the number, the most appropriate type, and the geographic distribution of bins in their functional areas.

“Councils are also required to take the appropriate enforcement and clean up actions having regard to their own local circumstances, priorities, and, of course, subject to the availability of resources and funding”.

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