Sarasota lawmaker pushing to ban smoking at Florida beaches

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A state lawmaker is making a new push to ban butts from the beach. Cigarette butts, that is.

This controversial topic is not new. Up until recently, Sarasota County had a ban of its own.

Our sugar-white sand beaches are a natural treasure here in Tampa Bay. But many use the beach as a large, personal ashtray. And, a state senator hopes to stop it.

Joe Gruters, a state lawmaker from Sarasota, recently filed Senate Bill 670, which would give counties the ability to ban smoking on public beaches.

Bird with cigarette 2_1561494760365.jpg.jpg

Officials say cigarette butts are the world’s greatest source of ocean trash. But aside from that, many would love this ban because they find the habit annoying.

“I think that’s a good idea because I’m not a smoker and the smoke does bother me,” said one beachgoer.

For years, Sarasota County did ban smoking at its beaches. That played a factor in Siesta Beach being crowned the best beach in America in 2011. But the ban was overturned in 2013 after a court decision found only the state could make such laws.

Gruters filed a smoking ban back in January, but it died in the senate. So he’s trying again, this time with a bill that gives the county the authority to put out a beach cigarette ban.

But some say lighten up and let these smokers light up in peace.

“You start controlling everything that people do you know what I mean? And the next thing you know, you’re just prohibiting people from coming out and having fun,” said one man.

“It’s the people’s beach, let it be the people’s beach, if they want to smoke out here, as long as they’re decent about it, you know? They’re not hurting anything really,” said another man.

If the bill passes, it would take effect next summer.

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