MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The City of Miami Beach is reminding people that smoking filtered cigarettes is no longer allowed on its beaches.

The city put up temporary cigarette butt statues along the beach as a statement, especially ahead of the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Friday.

“This is about educating the public so they know how to comport themselves on our beaches,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “Over 10 million people will likely come to our beaches over the next year, and many will be here this weekend. We want them to understand that they’re not supposed to be smoking.”

“The only way we get to protect this beautiful paradise is by reducing the amounts of plastics we put out there into the environment,” said Alex Fernandez, Commissioner for Miami Beach.

The city approved the ban back in September, taking advantage of a new state law that empowers local governments to ban smoking in public beaches and parks.

It was an easy decision for the folks on the beach.

During coastal cleanups, cigarette butts are the number one item picked up.

“In one day, coast wide in Florida, we will pick up 144,000 cigarette butts,” said J.P. Brooker, Florida Director of Conservation for Ocean Conservancy, “so you can see that something so small really does add up.”

Those filters in the cigarettes can harm and kill wildlife, which can make their way into our bodies, so this new law is good for us all.

“Cut open the belly of a fish in Florida, and you’d be hard pressed not to find some kind of microplastic in the gut of that fish, and the fact is, that plastic enters the ecosystem through fisheries, and we consume that fish that is tainted by plastic,” Brooker said.

Education remains a focus for people on the beach, since the law is new.

A person can be fined $100 and spend up to 60 days in jail for a first-time violation.​

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