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New law allows Florida counties to ban smoking on public beaches

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Florida Beaches
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

TALLAHASSEE- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday allowing local leaders to regulate smoking on public beaches.

House Bill 105 authorizes ‘counties and municipalities to further restrict smoking within the boundaries of public beaches and public parks.’

With the new law in effect, town and county governments can create designated smoking areas on beaches, crack down on improper cigarette butt disposal, ban smoking entirely, and levy fines against people who violate local smoking laws.

According to the National Institutes of Health, cigarette butts are the most common item found during beach cleanups worldwide and not only contribute to plastic pollution they also leach the toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke into the ground.

NIH estimates some 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are disposed of on beaches worldwide each year.

Prior to the passage of the law, only the state government could enact smoking bans on public beaches.

The only exception to the new law applies to ‘unfiltered cigars,’ thanks to an amendment filed by the bill’s author State Sen. Joe Gruters (R) of Sarasota.

Gruters told Cigar Aficionado magazine in January that the abundance of cigarette butts on Florida beaches was his greatest concern when drafting the bill and that banning cigars was not part of the plan.

The new law takes effect July 1.