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Florida Lawmakers Want to Ban Smoking on the Beach

January 3rd, 2019 by Jake Stofan

Smokers may have to find a new place to smoke or cancel their beach plans if a newly filed bill becomes law.

Some Florida lawmakers want to ban all tobacco smoking on Florida’s public beaches.

The weather was hardly ideal for a stroll on Shell Point Beach Thursday morning, but for Maryssa Smith visiting from Philadelphia the cigarette butts littering the sand made it even less pleasant.

“Seeing the butts on the ground, litter, kind of grosses me out,” said Smith.

It’s illegal to litter on the beach in Florida, but smoking is allowed.

A local effort to ban smoking on the beaches in Sarasota county was even overturned by the courts.

Now, a newly elected state Senator from Sarasota has proposed a bill that would ban smoking on all public beaches in Florida.

Aliki Moncrief with the Florida Conservation Voters says the proposed $25 fine or 10 hours of community service beach smokers could face, would help prevent Florida’s white beaches from becoming someone’s personal ashtray.

“Our beaches are for people to go and have fun, for kids to build sand castles, they’re for wildlife. Nobody wants to go to the beach and have their kid collecting cigarette butts instead of seashells,” said Moncrief.

It can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette butt to fully decompose.

“Because cigarette butts are a form of plastic we’re really excited to see this first step towards getting plastic pollution off of our beaches,” said Moncrief.

As an added bonus, smoke free beaches could also make the coast more attractive to tourists, like Maryssa.

“I’m not a smoker at all so I wouldn’t mind it if people didn’t smoke on the beach,” said Smith.

If the bill becomes Law the beach smoking ban would go into effect July 1st.

So far the bill has only been proposed in the Senate.

A House companion has not yet been introduced.

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