Smoking ban takes effect at Georgia's largest public beach

Death by smoking cigarettes - stock photo smoke smoking cigarette tile / Getty Images

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (AP) - Just in time for summer, Georgia's largest public beach is banning smoking in the sand.

City officials on Tybee Island decided to snuff out cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products on its beaches in an effort to reduce litter. That's after the city over the past five years collected 500,000 cigarette butts left by smokers using the sand as an ashtray.

Temporary signs warning visitors of the change went up when the ban took effect Wednesday, WTOC-TV reported. Permanent signs have been ordered to replace them.

Violators will be given warnings during the first 30 days. After that, lighting up on the beach will come with a price. Citations start with $50 fines and could increase to $300 for repeat offenders.

"We actually bring additional code enforcement on for Saturdays and Sundays because the weekends are so busy but we will be enforcing the beach rules during the week," said Shawn Gillen, Tybee Island's city manager. "And we also do video monitoring of the beach to see where the rule violators are."