No butts: Florida beaches can ban cigarette smoking starting Friday

·1 min read

Under a new bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the days of Florida’s beaches being used as giant ashtrays could be numbered.

The new law, which goes into effect Friday, gives cities and counties the right to ban smoking on public beaches.

“Cigarette butts are the number one item found on Florida’s beaches for the last 30 years straight,” said JP Brooker, the director of Florida Conservation for Ocean Conservancy, to WFLA Ch. 8.

But another beachgoer, Jennifer Moon, told WFLA Ch. 8 that she thinks vaping on the beach should still be allowed.

“Vaping, I think that’s different,” Moon told the TV station. “You know just because the smell isn’t as offensive to others, but definitely cigarette smoking.”

Cities throughout South Florida have long grappled with the issue of smoking on the beaches. Earlier this year, Fort Lauderdale commissioners pushed for state legislators and DeSantis to let cities ban beach smoking.

“The cigarette butts in the sand are just absolutely terrible and it makes it hard to enjoy the beach when you have people right next to you smoking,” Deerfield Beach Mayor Bill Ganz told the Sun Sentinel.

The butts are also a hazard to the wildlife and marine life that make their homes on beaches and in the oceans. In 2019, a Facebook user posted a photo of a seabird passing a discarded cigarette butt to its chick on St. Pete Beach.