Joe Gruters wants to snuff out smoking on Florida’s beaches

cigarette beach
The Sarasota Republican says tourists will flock to butt-free beaches.

Sen. Joe Gruters rekindled his effort to restrict smoking on Florida’s top beaches.

“Time to get the butts off the beach!” Gruters told Florida Politics. It’s not the sandy fannies immortalized on many a Florida postcard, but the tobacco products that so often end up discarded in the sand.

Specifically, the Sarasota Republican filed legislation (SB 334) that would authorize cities and counties to restrict smoking on public beaches and to prohibit smoking in state parks.

He said the legislation would make a better environment for beach-goers, but also deliver economic benefits to the state.

“Not only will we allow families the quiet enjoyment of not reaching into the sand and pulling out a cigarette butt or having to breathe second-hand smoke,” Gruters said, “Dr. Beach gives bonuses for smoke-free beaches and it is a huge economic driver. We want our beaches ranked so we can continue to help our tourism market.”

It’s not a new issue for the Senator, who represents Siesta Key, one of the top-rated beaches in the nation. That’s a beach that has topped the Dr. Beach rankings, compiled by Florida Atlantic University professor Stephen Leatherman.

In the past, Sarasota County outlawed smoking on the white sandy beach, but a court ruled the county could not legally put such restrictions in place when Florida law allows smoking in most outdoor spaces.

Gruters last year sponsored a similar bill that unanimously cleared the Community Affairs Committee but died in its second committee stop. The year prior, he filed a bill to outlaw smoking on the beach outright statewide but it never received a vote.

The legislation as written now would amend the Florida Clean Air Act to give back decision-making on smoking restrictions at beaches to local governments. For state parks, it would not allow smoking within park boundaries at all.

It would also allow local governments to restrict vaping on the beach.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Ocean Joe

    December 19, 2020 at 7:07 am

    It’s a great idea, but how are you going to keep people who won’t even wear a mask in the midst of a worldwide pandemic spread by airborne particles from smoking?

    Since it’s all about the money, if you want to juice the economy, legalize pot, set up beach areas like we currently have “dog beaches” to keep from annoying others, and start counting the tax revenues. You will have a slight rise in unemployment as the street dealers are put out of work, but the drop in violent crimes that accompany illegal sales will provide the additional jail cells.

  • Ocean Joe

    December 19, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Let me add that marijuana doesn’t have a nonbiodegradable filter at one end, and disappears down to a ‘roach’ which would not affect birds, turtles or fish when used by the devoted dope smoker. If you want to have a real middle class vacation draw this would be it. Not casinos.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    December 19, 2020 at 10:04 am

    “Thank you for pot smoking.”

    I will stop smoking on the beach when morbidly obese people in bathing suits are banned from them.

Comments are closed.


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