TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – The initiative to reduce waste from cigarette butts on the Tybee beachfront in 2022 is working to protect wildlife and keep the beach clean.

“Cigarettes have always been the number one thing, but since the passage of the no smoking ordinance from June last year it has dropped by 75%,” said Tim Arnold, the executive director and founder of Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers. “Straws are number one now.”

The nonprofit corporation Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers, also known as Fight Dirty Tybee, took to the shores of Tybee Wednesday after July Fourth to clean up any waste from the festivities.

They compared their waste count from their baseline in 2019 and saw a 75% drop in cigarettes and vapes in 2022, and in 2023, that’s increased to an 80% reduction.

The no smoking or vaping ordinance took effect June 1, 2022, and has made waves in limiting plastic and nicotine waste on the island.

In 2022, 182 citations were given out to violators, 164 in 2023 through June 30 and 21 over the Fourth of July weekend, according to Tybee Code Enforcement.

First-time offenders will get a light fine with a warning and are placed on the Island record. If caught a second time, a $300 fine will be applied, and third-time offenders will have to attend mandatory community service.

“We are looking for people who do it habitually and don’t care because a cigarette on the beach is really bad news in so many different ways,” said Arnold.

A bin full of cigarettes and cigarette butt's fount on the Tybee Island Beach.
Tim Arnold’s Butt Bin