BBC News

Cornish surfing charity wants smoking ban on beaches

By Amelia Butterly
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightSAS

Most people take their litter home with them after a day on the beach.

But, despite years of campaigning for people to keep Britain tidy, there are more than 41 million pieces of marine litter along Britain's coastline.

Now one Cornwall-based charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), is calling for measures to combat the rubbish, including a ban on smoking on beaches.

Hugo Tagholm from SAS says: "Litter is one of the biggest threats to the health of our marine environment."

image copyrightReuters

He says things like plastic bags, cigarette butts and food wrappers are responsible for the deaths of many animals around Britain's coastline.

As part of a study done in partnership with The Crown Estate and World Animal Protection, Surfers Against Sewage has put forward recommendations to parliament about how to tackle the problem of litter.

The Cornwall-based charity is calling for a 50% reduction in UK beach rubbish by 2020.

To achieve that they also want other measures introduced including increasing community beach clean-ups and removing plastic components from all sanitary products.

image copyrightSAS/Andy Hughes

Earlier this week a report was released, calling for London to ban smoking in parks and public squares, like New York.

The idea prompted mixed reviews from the Newsbeat audience, with a number of people saying they were against the idea.

So, how does SAS propose to get people to support the plans? And how would they enforce a smoking ban?

"Cigarette butts are one of the top 10 littering items," Hugo tells Newsbeat, in reference to the types of rubbish they find during beach clean-ups.

image copyrightSAS

He claims more than 4.5 trillion butts are littered every year and that animals can eat them, causing them harm.

He also says that the chemicals in one cigarette end can pollute up to 8 litres of sea water.

SAS suggests banning smoking on the beaches which are most affected by the problem.

They also claim that specific smoking zones and providing better ways of disposing of butts would also help tackle the issue.

"We don't want to persecute smokers," adds Hugo.

SAS is organising beach clean-ups this weekend as part of its campaign launch and hopes to see more than 4,000 volunteers take part.

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