Tybee Bans Smoking to Prevent Littering – which is already banned.

A guest blog submission by Paul Runko.  Got something to say? Submit here.

In the March 12 evening newscast of WTOC News in Savannah, a segment aired informing the public that Tybee Island City Council had banned smoking on a certain section of the beach near the pier. 

Banning things is nearly always pointless, but this seems particularly idiotic. How can it possibly be enforced?

“There will be additional enforcement staff monitoring the beach and looking for people littering cigarette and cigar butts,” the council claimed. But littering is already illegal on Tybee Island.  Why do you need an additional ban to do this? Why don’t they just enforce the current laws? Who thinks that the police will enforce this law better than that law?

Anyone who thinks that the tourists that come to Tybee Island will know that you can’t do this and therefore won’t smoke is living in a fantasy world. Or worse, will the city spend money to erect huge “no smoking” signs on the beach? What an eyesore!

There is also nothing to keep someone from smoking on the 13th street beach (where it is still legal) and then bringing their butt to 14th street and dropping it in the sand, assuming they already did not care about littering.

Tybee Island is going to see a lot of people smoking on 13th street and 16th street beaches right outside of the “illegal zones,” therefore creating a type of “smoking zones” on the beach. Those who avoid second-hand smoke will likely stay clear of the entire area now. 

This will also have repercussions for those businesses that operate around that area. If smokers know that they can’t smoke in that area, they may start using North Island beaches. South Island beach restaurants and shops therefore will lose customers to other establishments on other parts of the Island. Areas who see a sudden influx of smokers may react with subsequent bans, until the entire Island becomes a smoke-free island. Will lifelong smokers suddenly find it’s easy to quit? Or will they stop patronizing businesses, or even choose to move, reducing our tax base?

Given that the behavior the ban purports to address (dropping butts in the sand) is already illegal, and considering the likely impacts of such a ban, what is the ultimate goal of creating it? Is it just an attempt by the municipal government of Tybee Island to get forced revenue for the monopoly? A $1,000 fine! Who has that kind of money?

The biggest laugh of this news story is the pretense that “The ban will be a one year trial.” Come on now. Trial? Politicians often frame government overreach a “trial” or a “pilot,” but these never go away and usually expand, not shrink. 

This is not the first (or likely the last time) Tybee Island will ban something on “their” beach. Residents have already been fighting the “dog ban” on Tybee Island for years. 

The answer is obviously to privatize all beaches on Tybee Island and let the property owners decide how to run their beaches. This is the best way to guarantee liberty and freedom and have resources allocated appropriately in our society. 

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