House passes bill to ban cigarette butts from beaches
Image via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

A companion bill awaits a floor vote in the Senate.

The House for the first time passed a bill that would allow local governments to bar smoking on beaches.

The bill (HB 105) would allow cities and counties to regulate smoking of cigarettes in parks the governments own.

Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican, said the loss of that power was a byproduct of an anti-smoking constitutional amendment passed by voters. The amendment restricted smoking in most indoor public spaces, but resulted in making regulation of outdoor smoking a power held only by the state government.

In years since, Altman has pushed to change that.

“We found at a lot of public parks and beaches, you would go to a Little League game and see smoke going into the dugout with children, and there was no way to enforce that,” he said.

The bill will let municipal and county governments now prohibit smoking or set up isolated smoking areas in parks.

An amendment passed earlier this week on the House floor limited the regulating power only to cigarettes and filtered cigars. That brings the legislation in line with its Senate companion (SB 224).

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, agreed to changes in the upper chamber because he said the greatest concern for beaches is the cigarette butts smokers leave behind. Burned-out cigarette filters rank as the No. 1 piece of litter gathered in beach clean-ups.

The bill, therefore, focuses on cigarettes and plastic-tipped cigars, both of which leave a non-biodegradable product behind. Cigarettes also remain the top creator of second-hand smoke.

In the Senate, Gruters has sold the legislation as an environmental and economic benefit. He notes many tourism sites ranking beaches, most notably Dr. Beach, give points for bans on smoking. Making those lists can create a boon for coastal communities.

Many cities and counties have tried to ban smoking on beaches in the past, but a ruling in a 2017 case brought by the ACLU against a Sarasota ban on smoking in parks made clear no local ordinance could regulate outdoor smoking.

The Senate bill has cleared all committees and now awaits a floor vote.

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].

One comment

  • tom palmer

    February 24, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    I find it odd that there is so much effort to keep cigarette butts off our beaches, but so much pushback to block straws, plastic bags and other debris off our beaches and coastal waters.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704