Despite the constant rise of cigarette-free beaches in France, the trend has not slipped across the border into Belgium, where nothing like this exists. Neither local authorities nor the federal government have taken measures to create smoke-free zones along the coast, they confirmed on Thursday. Some 1,600 members of18 surf clubs undertook a clean-up campaign on Belgian beaches on March 22nd, on the occasion of Eneco Clean Beach Cup. Cigarettes butts represented the second most commonly found type of rubbish. However a ban on smoking at the beach is not on the agenda.
“This is something that has not been considered by aldermen along the coast,” explains the president of their organisation, Patrick De Klerck (Open Vld). Banning cigarettes is in the remit of the federal government and the minister of Health. But the office of Maggie De Block (Open Vld), the relevant minister, says it never examined the issue and has had no request to do so.
In France, Nice was the first city to inaugurate a smoke-free beach in 2012. Several important seaside resorts like Biarritz, Ouistreham and Porto Vecchio (Corsica) have banned cigarettes from parts of their beaches in the meantime. Australia has imposed a near-systematic ban on smoking on public beaches and similar operations are in force in the USA and Canada.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)