31 Dec 2019
New year, new laws… and 2020 ushers in a couple big changes, including a smoking ban on the beach itself. January 1 is often when new laws take effect, and this time around it’s especially true on the Isle of Palms. Hopefully these new regulations will lead to our beloved beach being an even healthier, cleaner place and will help protect the marine life just off our shore.
City Council has spoken: the IOP has a smoking ban
As of tomorrow - Wednesday, January 1, 2020 - smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars is illegal anywhere on the IOP beach or on the many beach access paths. Secondhand smoke poses known health risks to nonsmokers. Children, the elderly, and those with compromised immunity and lung function are especially vulnerable. The beach is a perfect place to take in fresh air and those clean ocean breezes. But there’s nothing like a cloud of acrid smoke to spoil it for anyone who happens to be downwind. Not only is it a matter of air pollution, it’s a matter of ground pollution - aka litter. Numerous beach sweeps on the IOP pick up litter on a regular basis, as I covered in this blog. They take place weekly in the peak summer months, monthly during the rest of the year. In cooperation with the fine folks at the SC Aquarium, beach sweepers tally exactly what they pick up and remove from the beach. By far, the most common type of beach litter is cigarette and tobacco butts. This is true nationally as well, not just here in the Lowcountry. Cigarette butts also contain toxic chemicals in their filters which make their way into the ocean, marine life and the whole food chain, including us. Sullivan’s Island recently passed a similar smoking ban on their beach. The general thinking was that folks who used to go to Sullivan’s and smoked would just head over Breach Inlet instead, making the problem even worse on the Isle of Palms. Hence the smoking ban on IOP.
A ban on many plastics, as well
The second main new law to go in effect bans plastics on the beach. Basically it says that as of January 1st:
- Businesses on the Isle of Palms can no longer distribute plastic straws, stirrers, or Styrofoam (Polystyrene/plastic foam) products like ice chests, coolers, clamshells, cups, bowls or plates. Any disposable food service products must be recyclable or compostable as accepted by Charleston County Recycling.
- Individuals may no longer bring the following onto the IOP beach: single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, Styrofoam food containers or cups, or balloons.
It’s no mystery why these passed. The amount of plastic in our oceans is staggering, and it’s taking a devastating toll on sea life. Styrofoam breaks into small dots that float, fooling fish and birds into eating them. Even the most diligent beachgoer can see their single-use plastic bag suddenly skirt off in the wind. Soon an innocent sea turtle mistakes it for a jellyfish, and before long its digestive track shuts down. Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll had this to say about the plastic and smoking ban: “There is no doubt that plastic and Styrofoam products and cigarettes pose a threat to our environment. The trash that is left on the beach makes its way to our waterways and the ocean and is deadly to marine life. Plastic bags look like jellyfish and block the digestive tracks of sea turtles. We couldn’t sit idly by while seeing how this problem was affecting our beautiful beach." Read more about it in the Island Eye News. Happy 2020, everyone. May yours be filled with health and happiness, and hopefully a visit to the Isle of Palms, whose beach will be smoke-free. Just give us a call at EP for the ideal Isle of Palms vacation rentals. All best, Lowcountry Lisa your Isle of Palms vacation blogger