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Folly Beach Bans Smoking To Reduce Cigarette Litter

beach cigarettes litter file unsplash.jpg
Brian Yurasits
Cigarettes are a major source of litter on beaches. In South Carolina, the city of Folly Beach passed a smoking ban to help curb the problem.

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. — After more than a year of advocating to eliminate cigarette butt litter on Folly Beach, the city's council has officially passed a smoking ban.

People who violate the ban, approved March 10, face a first time fine of $25, $50 for a second offense within a year and $100 for any other violation within the same year. Council members D.J. Rich and Dr. Katherine Houghton and Mayor Tim Goodwin each voted against the ban that targets smoking on the open beach and beach-access points, The Post and Courier reported.

The new rule prohibits smoking, holding and carrying a lighted or activated smoking product on the sand and at beach-access points only. Cigarettes, pipes, cigars and electronic smoking devices such as vapes are among the items prohibited under the ban. Disposal of the products are allowed in designated containers.

Surfrider Foundation Charleston last summer launched a Hold On to Your Butt campaign, pushing for the ordinance in the process. The group installed 20 cigarette butt receptacles and education signs at businesses and the beach’s main access points. Portable ashtrays were also provided to businesses for distribution to patrons.

Last year, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization gathered more than 13,000 cigarette butts during beach sweeps on Folly beach alone.

The new ban is helping the group with its goal of eliminating cigarette butts from natural wildlife and coastal habitats and protecting beaches and waterways, said Becky Sheftall, coordinator for the Hold On to Your Butt campaign.

The butts and their filters can leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil, which could be lethal for small animals such as shrimp and crabs, officials said. The items have been found in dead animals including sea turtles, fish and birds.

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