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East Hampton is latest US town to ban balloon releases

East Hampton in Long Island is the latest US town to ban balloon releases for a host of environmental reasons.

Officials in the seaside town voted unanimously on Thursday 7 February to ban the intentional release of balloons in the town.

People found to be violating the ban would face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 15 days in jail – the same punishment for littering.

“Balloons end up in our waterways, they end up in our marine animal life,” said town trustee Susan McGraw Keber, who has been spearheading the legislation in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation.

“This isn’t really meant to be a law that targets a child on his or her birthday who accidentally releases a balloon,” said the Surfrider Foundation’s Colleen Henn. “We really don’t want to be punishing those children. But we would like to educate the public about what happens when you do release a balloon.”

US organisation The Balloon Council widely discourages the intentional release of balloons as do the European and UK-based associations EBPC, PEBA UK, BAPIA and NABAS.

“Our message is simple,” said The Balloon Council’s  Lorna O’Hara. “Balloons should never be released. Our motto is, ‘Don’t let go. Weight. Inflate. Enjoy.’ We prefer education over legislation.”

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