HEALTHY HABITS: Mountain Creek’s Amy and Fiona Turton , enjoying the sunshine at Maroochydore Beach, are against smoking on beaches.
HEALTHY HABITS: Mountain Creek’s Amy and Fiona Turton , enjoying the sunshine at Maroochydore Beach, are against smoking on beaches. Iain Curry

Bin it or butt off our beaches

IT'S not nature's ashtray, but treating one of the Sunshine Coast's glorious beaches like it is will set you back more than $200 if caught.

While there are no local council laws governing smoking, Queensland Health environmental health officers can dish out fines for smoking in areas such as patrolled beaches, clubs, sports grounds and stadiums, playgrounds, restaurants and near building entrances.

The officers gained those powers in 2005 when new state laws came into effect.

Coolum Coast Care's Susan Richards and other volunteers have been conducting a litter survey for the past two years.

Ms Richards said while plastic litter was most common, there was a problem with cigarette butts in certain locations.

In the 12 months to August 2013, the team collected just under 15,000 pieces of rubbish from four sites - Coolum Beach, Peregian, Marcus Beach and First Bay.

She said cigarette butts had accounted for about 4% of the total rubbish collected, but in First Bay, at Coolum, they made up 22% of the litter gathered from that site.

"They take a long time to break up in the ocean," Ms Richards said. "We've put signage up there before but there seems to be a few chronic smokers that tend to go down there, smoke and leave their butts there."

Mountain Creek resident Fiona Turton, who was enjoying Maroochydore Beach on Tuesday afternoon, said she found it frustrating when people smoked on the beach.

"We have a lot to do with nippers and it's not the best environment when you see a smoker having a smoke on the beach while the nippers are running around," she said.

Ms Turton said smoking on the beach not only sent mixed messages to youngsters about healthy habits, it defeated the purpose of enjoying the fresh, ocean air.

Smoking Facts

 It is illegal to smoke between the flags on a patrolled Queensland beach

 It is illegal to smoke at an artificial beach in Queensland between sunrise and sunset

 Smoking is illegal in any facility managed by Stadiums Queensland


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