In 2021, Florida Sen. Joe Gruters introduced a bill to restore the power local governments have to ban smoking at public parks and beaches. Currently, city and county governments are not allowed to ban cigarette smoking in state parks and beaches because this authority rests solely in the hands of state government.
Bill SB 224, proposed by Senator Gruters, has passed one of the senate committees and a similar bill being sponsored by Randy Fire is also circulating the House. Bill HB105 is a bill that will grant the authority to counties and cities to determine their own approach to smoking at state parks and beaches. Senator Gruters aims to reduce the amount of cigarette litter on Florida beaches and in state parks.
In 2019, cigarette butts were one of the most littered items on United States beaches and in waterways.
The butts of cigarettes are composed of non-biodegradable plastic filters that are an endangerment to wildlife and pollution at beaches. Lawmakers and citizens of Florida’s community that support bills SB224 and HB105 are aiming to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment to protect wildlife.
Despite the environmental impact of the cigarettes, many beach goers are not pleased with the presence of secondhand smoke. This factor would influence the amount of support the SB224 and HB105 bills will have going through the government commissions.
“I am optimistic the bill will help others to think about how their actions can negatively impact the health of others and the environment,” medical mental health counselor, Tiffany McGee, residing in Miami Beach said. “I think the bill will change behaviors in certain cities, but I do not think Miami Beach will be able to, nor desire to properly enforce this bill.”
Although banning smoking from state parks and beaches is being considered, local leaders will also be granted the authority to decide if designated smoking sections should be implemented. The bills will provide local leaders with the ability to determine the fine against violators if the local laws are not being followed.