Beaches: they should be healthy and safe, cigarette smoking-free outdoor zones | Photo: Shutterstock

Smoking and beachgoing don't go together, and they never will. So here's why sand strips should be tobacco-free spaces.

Smokers hardly imagine how non-smokers experience and are affected by their right to puff on a cigarette.

Most smokers also think it is perfectly fine to enjoy their habit outdoors, as the smoke will dissipate quickly.

Even those who care about other people's well-being are unaware that cigarette smoke can easily disturb someone ten feet away in an outdoor public space.

Only those who don't smoke know how this is real and simultaneously unpleasant, sickening, and disgusting.

How many of you, non-smoking readers, were enjoying a meal or drink, having a coffee, or reading the newspaper when a nauseous white smoke suddenly invaded your nostrils?

It is estimated that around one-quarter of the population smokes tobacco, meaning that 75 percent are smoke-free individuals.

Smoking: many coastal communities are already implementing cigarette bans on public beaches | Photo: Shutterstock

Tolerance Is Not Limitless

The idea that it is OK to smoke in open areas and outdoor public spaces is something that non-smokers have tolerated for a long time.


Because it has been considered good sense to let smokers express their legitimate right to inhale and exhale the contents of their burning tobacco under the open sky.

The problem is that smoke can travel a long distance, even on windy days.

And, when you're enjoying a day out on the beach, breathing the ocean breeze, and sunbathing, you suddenly are forced to share someone's smoke.

Smoking on public beaches has been gradually banned from several world sand strips.

Several coastal communities are recognizing the right not to inhale other people's smoke breathe.

Passive smoking, also known as second-hand smoke, is actually hazardous to our health.

However, there are many reasons for establishing smoke-free beaches and no-cigarette bathing areas.

Here are the most valid arguments:

Cigarette butts: they contain thousands of chemicals harmful to beachgoers and marine life | Photo: Shuttterstock

1. Smoke Affects the Right of Others to Breathe Fresh Air

Smoking creates air pollution by releasing thousands of carcinogens, chemicals, and other pollutants into the air.

This increases the risk of cancer and other respiratory diseases for both smokers and non-smokers.

Smoking on beaches and bathing areas is an infringement on the right of others to breathe fresh air in public spaces.

Clean air is a human right.

2. Second-Hand Smoke Causes Cancer

Second-hand smoke is harmful to non-smokers and can cause cancer, lung disease, and other health problems in friends, family, children, and pets.

Banning smoking on beaches would protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of passive smoking.

3. Discarded Cigarette Butts Are Intoxicating the Sands

Cigarette butts are a form of litter and can harm wildlife and marine life. In addition, they are not biodegradable and take many years to decompose.

Banning smoking on beaches would help to reduce this type of pollution.

Beach: seaside towns spend millions to clean discarded cigarette butts from sand strips | Photo: Shutterstock

4. Tobacco Chemicals Are Polluting the Water

Discarded cigarette butts will sooner or later end up in the ocean.

As a result, pollution of the ocean's water with toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and residual nicotine is inevitable.

Putting an end to smoking on beaches would dramatically reduce the negative impact on water quality.

5. People Step On Burning Cigarettes

A discarded cigarette can be lit for several minutes, slightly buried under the sand.

The risk of children or even adults stepping on it and getting hurt would be mitigated with regulation to keep beaches smoke-free zones.

6. The Cost of Cleaning Up Is High

According to the provided sources, the cost of cleaning cigarette butts can vary depending on the location and the methods used for cleaning.

Some estimates include the following:

  • $90,000,000 annually in the United States, according to researchers from San Diego State University and Avalon Economics;
  • €12-21 per inhabitant yearly in Catalan municipalities in Spain, according to a study;
  • $7-11 million yearly in San Francisco, according to San Francisco officials;

Cigarette butts: marine life often mistakes cigarette butts for food | Photo Shutterstock

7. Wildlife Is Directly Affected

Tobacco waste is not biodegradable and takes many years to decompose.

Discarded cigarette butts are one of the major sources of litter in the world and can harm wildlife and marine life.

They can be mistaken for food and ingested, causing harm or death, and can also cause fires in wild habitats.

Cigarette filters are made of a plastic - cellulose acetate - which does not degrade easily and can entangle animals.

Marine animals such as sea turtles, fish, and birds can become entangled in cigarette filters and suffocate or drown.

Wildlife can also be affected by secondary poisoning when they consume prey that has ingested cigarette filters or other tobacco waste.

8. Children are Exposed to Smoking Habits

Children may be more likely to start smoking if they see others smoking in public spaces.

Banning smoking on beaches would reduce children's exposure to smokers and could help prevent them from starting to smoke in the future.

Additionally, exposure to smoking can negatively impact a child's cognitive development and academic performance.

Ultimately, it sets a bad example for children.

9. Society Needs to Set a Positive Example

Banning smoking on beaches would signal that smoking is not acceptable in public spaces and could encourage smokers to quit or cut down.

It also sets a positive example by promoting a healthy and clean environment and demonstrating a commitment to protecting the health and well-being of all beachgoers, including children and non-smokers, from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

Furthermore, it encourages people to adopt a more active and healthy lifestyle, which is in line with the message that public beaches are places for activities and recreation, not smoking.

10. The Economic Impacts are High

Smoking on beaches can have several negative economic impacts, including:

  • Cleanup Costs: Smoking on beaches can generate a significant amount of litter, such as cigarette butts, which can be costly to clean up;
  • Loss of Tourism: Some tourists may choose to avoid beaches that are known for smoking, which can lead to a loss of revenue for local businesses;
  • Damage to Marine Life: Cigarette butts take years to decompose and can be harmful to marine life, which can lead to negative impacts on the fishing and tourism industries;
  • Health Care Costs: Second-hand smoke exposure can lead to several health problems, which can result in increased healthcare costs for both individuals and governments;
  • Reduced Property Values: Smoking on beaches can create an unpleasant environment, leading to reduced property values for nearby homes and businesses;

Banning smoking from beaches can help mitigate these negative economic impacts, promote a healthy and clean environment for the beach community and increase tourism and recreation activities.

Words by Luís MP | Founder of

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