Isle of Palms could ban smoking on beaches to reduce litter

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - City leaders on Isle of Palms are discussing how to reduce the number of cigarette butts found on the beach, including the possibility of prohibiting smoking.

During the last city council meeting on March 26, council members discussed the growing problem of people littering the beach with used cigarette butts.

The Isle of Palms Cleanup Crew, which is a group of volunteers who clean up trash on the Isle of Palms beach, picked up 23,000 pieces of trash in eleven total hours last summer, according to the group's most recent data.

The data shows 9,407 pieces of that trash were general plastics and more than 8,000 pieces of the trash were cigarettes.

During the March 26 meeting, a regular volunteer who picks up trash on the Isle of Palms said he has also noticed a lot of cigarettes littering the beach.

“This is what about 2,000 cigarette butts look like,” IOP Cleanup Crew volunteer Howard Hogue said. “And those 2,000 cigarette butts, if they get into the water, it’s not good.”

Hogue collected about 270 straws last year and more than 5,000 cigarette butts during the same time.

In response to collecting so many cigarettes, IOP City Council is now thinking about banning smoking on the beach.

“This beautiful beach is not an ash tray,” IOP City Council Member Susan Hill Smith said. “We need to protect it.”

Smith is one of the council members pushing for a smoking ban.

Smith said the environmental benefits of banning smoking are clear: cigarettes have plastic and toxic chemicals inside them.

But Smith also said banning smoking on the beach would be a common courtesy.

“No one wants to come to the beach and breathe in cigarette smoke,” Smith said. “And so that’s another issue.”

The Isle of Palms Public Works Committee will discuss the issue of smoking on the beach during its meeting on Thursday at 9 a.m.

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