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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: To bring the public health and environmental communities together to advocate for smoke-free beaches.
Methods: While it is widely accepted that any exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful, it is the negative impact of tobacco litter on the environment that made for the most compelling argument in the fight for smoke-free beaches. Environmental organizations (with the Surfrider Foundation taking the lead) joined the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and others in a campaign to win broad-based support from the community and elected officials. Data from the Ocean Conservancy and the California Coastal Commission, gathered during annual coastal clean-ups, clearly demonstrated that cigarettes were the number one source of beach litter. Environmental and public health activists in different regions shared information and ideas, which helped foster a regional approach to the problem. Media advocacy strategies were utilized to help raise awareness and mobilize support.
Results: In 2003, Solana Beach was the first city in California to declare its beach smoke-free. When world-famous Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu beaches went smoke-free a few months later, a genuine movement had taken hold. Smoke-free beaches were one of the top news stories of 2004, garnering extensive national and international coverage. Environmental and public health advocates across the world were inspired by California's success. A number of Australia's most famous beaches went smoke-free, including the first statewide ban (Queensland). There are now 20 beaches along the California coast that are smoke-free, and the movement continues to grow.