A southside environmental group is appealing with local authorities to ban smoking on beaches.

The Sandycove Clean Coasts Group said that cigarette butts can take up to ten years to decompose, and can be extremely harming for marine life.

Group spokesperson, Margaret Brown, feels that Ireland should come in line with other countries, who have banned smoking on beaches.

“Cigarette butts are littering the seabeds and are deadly to marine life.

“The local authority area of Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown has some of the country’s most visited beaches including, Seapoint, Sandycove, Killiney and Dalkey.

“Globally countries including Spain, Italy, the south of France, parts of Wales, Australia and Thailand have banned smoking on beaches.

“Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources has reported that workers have picked up tens of thousands of cigarette butts from the country’s beaches – making up a third of all beach waste.

“Those caught smoking on beaches where it is prohibited could face up to a year in prison, or a fine of up to 100,000 baht or €2,651.

“Cigarettes filters, which contain slow-degrading plastic cellulose acetate, can take up to 10 years to decompose. Approximately 5.5 trillion cigarettes are sold worldwide each year, with a vast number of the ends discarded into the surrounding environment.”

The group is calling on the government and local authorities to take action and make beaches smoke-free.

A spokesperson for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council told Dublin Gazette: “The Council takes its obligations regarding cleansing and environmental protection very seriously, however, at the current time there are no plans to pilot ‘smoke free’ areas on beaches.”

In a recent poll, Dublin Gazette asked readers do they think that smoking should be banned on beaches. 71% said yes, while 29% no.