The Balearic Islands government has introduced a new initiative encouraging town councils to contribute to a network of smoke-free beaches in the archipelago.
The ministries of health and environment have welcomed the project with the aim of promoting a healthier lifestyle among residents and tourists while also preventing the pollution and waste of cigarette butts in natural spaces.
The project also seeks to avoid the danger and accidental swallowing of cigarette butts among children playing in the sand and sea.
The government has issued information stating that cigarette butts contribute to the largest product of marine waste, ahead of plastic, highlighting that one cigarette butt can pollute up to eight litres of water and take up to ten years to decompose.
The measure, which is in its initial phase, is entirely voluntary and town councils can decide which areas become part of this network; whether it is the whole beach or only a stretch of coastal area.
The initiative is not a law or legal prohibition and therefore local police do not have the authority to patrol beaches and prosecute smokers (as had been suggested in some sources).
The initiative, which is already underway in parts of Spain, will see informative materials being distributed to local councils around the islands and a web page created which will list the beaches and coastal areas which plan to take part on the initiative.
Town councils that want to designate coastal areas as part of the smoke-free network will need to lodge their request to the general directorate of public health and participation in the Balearic Islands and meet a set of established requirements.