THERE are renewed calls for a smoking ban on the beach with thousands of cigarette butts being left on the pebbles each week.

Recent NHS statistics show 18 per cent of the population in Brighton and Hove smoke – higher than the national average.

More shockingly, 14.9 per cent of the city’s 15-year-olds smoke.

It means the city has the highest number of young smokers in the country.

Brighton and Hove City Council held a consultation in 2015 about extending the smoking ban to public spaces, including Brighton beach.

While it managed to succeed in banning smoking outside school gates and children’s centres, the discussion about stopping smoking on the beach was dropped.

Change Incorporated, whose mission is to help people quit smoking, has decided to highlight the issue in view of Brighton’s smoking statistics.

Many residents back a ban. Brighton businesswoman Christina Olympia found the statistics about young smokers shocking but not surprising and said: “We are a city by the sea, everything spills out on to the pavements and so that boundary of where you smoke I think is a lot freer.

“Every Friday I run a market in the middle of the city so I see a lot of people smoking. I am a mum and it really shocks me.

“It’s so sad to imagine young people smoking, but then it’s the party culture of the city, the sun’s out and the whole city is heaving with young people and I think with alcohol the two go naturally together.”

She said if a lot of people are smoking around youngsters then it is easy for them to start.

Donny Scarlett, 25, who lives in Brighton, also supports a ban on smoking on the beach is a good idea, particularly for the benefit of the environment.

She said: “I smoke and I actually don’t have an issue with smoking but I do think chucking cigarette butts on the floor is awful, especially on the beach when we know the damage is causes to sea life.

“Introducing a ban at the beach would also keep people a bit healthier with their habit because I imagine people just chain smoke on the beach in the sun with a beer.”

Andrew Thompson, 79, a pensioner from Hove, said he noticed children smoking a lot more.

He said: “I am quite shocked nowadays you see such fresh faces holding fags.

“I think a ban on the beach sounds mad because no one would actually stop, Brightonians are cheeky.

“But if they succeed in doing so then good on them because I would certainly be able to live a bit longer if I wasn’t surrounded by them all the time.”

Christine Easterbroke, a retired social worker from Kemp Town, said: “It took me 40 years to stop smoking. Anywhere they ban smoking will help people cut down.

“When they stopped smoking in pubs and places that was it for me.

“When young people are on the beach they just sit there and smoke to look cool, so yes it’s a great idea.”

But Jamie Bryant, 24, from Southampton, said: “That’s not good – people should be able to make their own choices.”

Peter West, a retired bricklayer from Arundel, said: “Anything to stop them from smoking is a good idea, I hope it goes through.”

Ryan Phillips, a personal trainer who has just moved to Brighton, said: “It is a good idea but I’d rather they ban barbecues.”

Dominic Shales, of Change Incorporated, said: “Smoking cigarettes is a fiercely debated topic as it’s obviously bad for health, but it is also part of personal freedom.

“One of the reasons we wanted to speak to people from Brighton was the alarming NHS statistics around younger people smoking, with the number of 15-year-olds being the highest in the country.

“We found some great opinions and insights into what people think can be done to help, from reinvigorating discussions on a beach ban to having huge billboards to

constantly remind people of the statistics.”

Brighton and Hove City Council was approached for comment.