Balloon ban extends to the United States
In more and more places in the United States, it is becoming illegal to drop a balloon in the air. Hawaii and Virginia became the last states to ban balloons, setting fines for those who ignore the ban. California, Florida and Tennessee have already banned mass balloon releases and some municipalities, such as Atlantic City, New Jersey, are fining $ 500 for those who fail to comply with the new law.
Hawaii Governor David Ige has just passed the country’s toughest anti-balloon bill. Those who break the law would be fined $ 500 effective January 1, 2023. Hot air balloons and balloons used for scientific purposes by a government entity would be exempt. The bill was introduced by Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki at the behest of the nonprofit Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (BEACH). It was passed by both the House and Senate chambers, before being approved by state legislators in the spring.
“I want to thank President Saiki and all of the lawmakers who have taken this step to prevent balloon litter in the ocean and on beaches and help protect Hawaii’s marine life and seabirds,” said Suzanne BEACH’s Frazer in a prepared statement.
Virginia has passed a similar law, although fines are currently in effect. Virginia law states: “It is illegal for anyone 16 years of age or older or any other person to intentionally release, throw or cause to be released or thrown out or out any ball made of non-biodegradable or non-biodegradable material. photodegradable or any material requiring more than five minutes of contact with air or water to degrade. Anyone found guilty of an offense under this article is liable to a civil fine of $ 25 per ball dropped or thrown. Fines collected in Virginia will go to the Game Protection Fund to protect wildlife. In Virginia, if a person under the age of 16 releases a balloon “with the consent or on the instruction of an adult”, the adult is liable to the imposed civil penalty.
In 2017, the city council of Atlantic City, New Jersey voted to ban balloons from the city of the Jersey Shore. Often seen after special events or celebrations, balloons can float in the sky, carried by local wind currents. Local politicians have worried about what happens when they stop flying in the air: some could fall and create litter on area beaches, while others could be swallowed by marine life. Similar bans were passed in Ventnor, Margate and Longport in the Garden State.
Atlantic City City Council unanimously passed the ordinance fining $ 500 on “individuals or groups releasing balloons filled with lighter-than-air gas,” such as helium.
Atlantic City Councilor Frank Gilliam sponsored the ban. “Atlantic City is a beautiful place,” said Gilliam. “The ocean is a beautiful part of our existence, so we want to protect it in any way we can.”
According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, birds, turtles and other animals often mistake balloons for food, which can injure or kill them. Many animals can get caught in the strings of the balloon which can kill them or damage their feet / hands / wings.
Anti-balloon groups and websites recommend that people enjoy the skies with other means, such as kites. The BalloonsBlow.org website recommends that people replace balloons with flags, banners, streamers, and dancing inflatables. According to their website, “Many businesses are realizing the benefits of using eye-catching reusable signage. Colorful streamers, flags and banners save money and time on balloons, ribbons and helium. They’re also weatherproof, save helium, and can be reused over and over again!