Gov. DeSantis receives measure returning beach smoking bans back to local govs
Ron DeSantis promises a big boost in infrastructure spending, thanks to the feds. Image via AP.

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The driving force behind the legislation was to cut down on pollution and litter.

Local governments may soon be able to regulate the use of cigarettes on the beach after Gov. Ron DeSantis received the new measure Friday. It will become law upon his signing.

The proposal (HB 105) empowers cities and counties to regulate cigarettes in parks, including beaches. That’s a change from Florida’s previous law, which restricted the right to regulate outdoor smoking only to the state. 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 legislation was sponsored by Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters and Brevard County Republican Rep. Randy Fine. It cleared the Senate in a 30-7 vote, and the House in a 105-10 vote.

While in the Florida Legislature, the bill did run into some resistance from colleagues who represent communities with identities closely associated with cigars. The final legislation was amended to exclusively exempt unfiltered cigars, but allows governments to ban everything else. Critics maintained that exempting certain kinds of tobacco was discriminatory.

Ultimately, the driving force behind the legislation was to cut down on pollution and litter, not second-hand smoke. 

“Cigarette butts are one of Florida’s largest environmental litter problems that pollute our beaches and bays,” Gruters said when presenting the bill to committee. “Florida consistently ranks in the top three states where thousands of cigarette butts are the top item picked up each year during these beach cleanups.”

Gruters had pushed the legislation for years to give that right back to local governments, noting that many beach rankings — including the Florida International University-based Stephen Leatherman’s Dr. Beach annual listings — give points for beaches remaining smoke-free.

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Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Governor had signed the legislation. The story has been updated to reflect that he has just received the legislation.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


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