In a recent survey conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health, 72% of respondents said that they had been bothered by someone else's smoke at the beach.

Everyone deserves to have good, clean, fun.

A day at the beach is a summertime rite of passage in Rhode Island. But a new survey by the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) indicates that for many Rhode Islanders, second-hand smoke and discarded cigarette butts have tarnished the experience.

Rhode Island currently has a strong, comprehensive ban on indoor smoking in public places. The results of this new survey show that support is growing for expanding the smoking ban to include outdoor spaces as well. Seventy-two percent of respondents to HEALTH’s survey said that they had been bothered by someone else’s smoke at the beach.

The push to ban outdoor smoking isn’t just about good manners. Second-hand smoke is toxic – even outside. A study by researchers in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association measured air pollution levels at places where people were smoking outdoors, including parks and sidewalk cafes, as well as restaurant and pub patios. The study found that the level of second-hand smoke outdoors within a few feet of a smoker was comparable to second-hand smoke levels measured indoors.

The health impacts of smoking aren’t mitigated once a cigarette is stubbed out. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. Discarded cigarette butts leach toxic chemicals and carcinogens into sand and water, and are poisonous to wildlife.

Last year, HEALTH partnered with the Department of Environmental Management to increase public awareness of the smoke-free policy currently in place. Signs reminding the public that all state beaches are smoke free were recently installed. With the public’s support, all Rhode Islanders can enjoy a healthy, smoke-free experience and ensure that our natural resources remain preserved.

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