French Town Says: “Ne Pas Fumer Sur La Plage!”

A small town in Provence declared smoking off limits on a stretch of its beachfront, proclaiming itself the first non-smoking beach not only in France, but Europe.

According to the Associated Press, the smoking ban came into effect earlier this summer in La Ciotat, and compliance among the public at the packed beach has been strong. “We don’t stop smokers from going elsewhere, but this one we want to reserve for nonsmokers, for mothers and children so they can make sand castles and not cigarette butt castles,” Deputy Mayor for the Environment Noel Collura told the AP.

Cigarette butts remain the No. 1 item picked up by volunteers at Heal the Bay beach cleanups, despite the fact that Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Long Beach and Malibu have banned smoking on the beach. A typical cigarette butt can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years to decompose, depending on conditions. Cigarette butts contain the chemicals filtered from cigarettes that leach into waterways and water supplies.

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Photo courtesy Jacques Brinon  /  AP