SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — City leaders in Sarasota think a ban on smoking on their beaches will help keep the sand free of cigarette butts, secondhand smoke and reduce the impact on sea life.
They’re considering the ban on public beaches, and Tuesday, they heard what residents and families have to say about it.
This comes after a Florida law went into effect in July, allowing local governments to ban smoking on public beaches.
Mayor Erik Arroyo said there was approval for the first reading of regulating smoking on beaches and in parks.
Walking along Lido Beach, you see cigarette butts scattered everywhere in the sand.
“Within just from parking lot to the short distance we were on the sand, they picked up at least 30 cigarette butts and that was just a little path,” said Maria Schifano, visiting from Central Florida. “People should be a little bit more respectful to our environment.”
Schifano quit smoking 11 years ago.
“I find it to be offensive, however, I respect the rights of others to be able to smoke in a public area like this.”
City commissioners are one step closer to regulating smoking on public beaches and in parks with the exception of designated areas.
“I’d like to see as craft a policy that makes it clear what is allowed and what isn’t allowed,” Arroyo said.
If passed during the next public hearing, it wouldn’t be the city’s first ban on public beach smoking. A similar local law was passed in 2008 when the city opted into the Sarasota County ordinance to ban smoking at public beaches. However, that ban was overturned in court in 2013.
“It would mean safer beaches for residence no secondhand smoking it would mean a better beach better quality of life overall better air quality and happy residence,” he said.
There’s one more public hearing where city commissioners will then decide to approve or reject the smoking ban. Arroyo said he expects it to be adopted.