While it may be getting all gussied up with new rides and boardwalks, nobody ever accused Coney Island of being particularly sanitary. But that hasn't stopped the Daily News from being completely shocked at the 1,000 cigarette butts they were able to dig up in the sand this weekend. At least they didn't try to collect any Coney Island Whitefish.
Beachgoers were disgusted at the state of the sand this weekend, with one comparing it to "sitting in a giant ashtray." Another said beach smokers were disrupting her enjoyment of the otherwise pristine environment, saying, "I get bronchial asthma because of stuff like this." After being banned from restaurants, bars, playgrounds and outside office buildings, the beach may be one of the only sanctuaries smokers have left...for now. Smoker Carlos Valentin said others just have to suck it up—his secondhand smoke, that is. "It's public. It's open. They're making this a Communist country. This is public air."
Critics also warn of the cost the discarded butts could have on the environment, saying they're one of the top sources of marine debris once they get swept out to sea. But Valentin insists that even stopping smokers wouldn't keep the trash from piling up, saying, "They've been combing these beaches for years and guess what, there are still bottles." Coney Island has generated 420 tons of trash since it opened on Memorial Day, more than any other beach. As one Coney Island frequenter told us, "It's goddamned Coney Island. I couldn't name something dirtier if I tried." At least, not until Sitt gets his hands on it.