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Coastal mayors divided over proposed smoking ban on beaches

17:17 20/07/2023

Belgium's federal health ministry is carrying out an online survey of local authorities along the coast to determine whether smoking on the beach should be banned.

Ostend mayor Bart Tommelein has come out in favour of implementing the ban, while Koksijde mayor Marc Vanden Bussche is against it.

According to RTBF, Vanden Bussche does not believe the ban would have a palpable outcome as it would require thorough surveillance of beachgoers.

The need for a ban is “obvious”, according to the West Flemish Environmental Federation. It said that a single cigarette butt can take up to 15 years to degrade in nature and has the potential of polluting up to 500 liters of water.

Belgium’s Anti-Cancer Foundation has also supported the ban, as long as an effort is made to enforce it properly rather than rely on signage.

Currently, only four seaside towns — Ostend, Bredene, De Panne and De Haan — have marked areas of beach in place in which smoking is prohibited.

In Ostend, for example, the smoking ban applies only to part of its beach, from 1 July to 31 August.

Written by Ana Fota