Wollongong City Council is set to ban smoking and vaping at all patrolled beaches this summer.
But anyone caught flouting the ban will not be fined, as no one will have the power to enforce the council's new rules.
Under a change to the city's Smoke Free Recreation Policy, council staff say smokers will have to leave the sand if they want to light up, as smoking will not be allowed near surf lifesaving flags.
Council staff said this ban was being introduced to protect the health of children, young people and families, as well as to reduce cigarette litter on beaches.
However, is unclear how the new rules will be enforced, with the council relying on "self-regulation" and signage to stop people smoking.
According to the council report, NSW Health inspectors can enforce smoke-free areas and issue cautions or on-the-spot fines of $300. However, beaches are not covered by this legislation.
Council lifeguards will "not have an active role in enforcing the smoke-free areas" and volunteer lifesavers and surf life saving clubs will also not be required to enforce the smoke-free areas.
"Council's current approach to compliance with the policy is based on self-regulation by the community supported by signage," the report said.
The also said smokers in other smoke-free areas - like the mall, public shopping centres and children's playgrounds - had "complied with policy requirements without the need for punitive enforcement."
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery acknowledged the limitations of the council's no smoking rules, but said he hoped the new rules would compel people not to smoke on moral grounds.
If councillors support the beach ban at next week's meeting, Wollongong will become the 12th NSW city to have designated smoke-free areas on beaches.
Smoking will be banned between and within 50m of the flags during patrol season.
The ban will not apply beyond the sand, which will allow smokers "to remain in a line of sight to the swimming area between flags and personal belongings".
The policy change will come into force from February 1.
Also at next week's meeting, the council will update its smoke-free policy to include reference to e-cigarettes, to bring it in line with NSW legislation.
Already under the council's policy, smoking is banned within 10m of all children's playground equipment and all outdoor fitness equipment.
Smokers are not allowed to light up around and within the identified perimeter of all council outdoor sporting facilities and skate parks, leisure centres and public swimming pools or within four metres of an entrance used by pedestrians to get into or out of a public building.
Vaping will also be banned in these areas.