Fernandina’s city beaches on path to smoking ban
Image via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

There is the cigar and pipe loophole, however.

If you want to watch the rockets’ red glare on July 4 with a glowing cigarette, you won’t be able to do that in Fernandina Beach parks and on city beaches after final passage of the city’s beach smoking ban. The ban passed first reading Tuesday night by the City Commission.

Mayor Mike Lednovich posted on social media that he intended to use the power delegated by the Legislature to municipalities this year to enact a smoking ban.

“This business that you’re outdoors and smoke doesn’t impact you is a myth,” Lednovich said before the vote. “Thirteen feet — you can be 13 feet away, take one whiff of smoke. You are breathing in a toxin which adversely affects your health. So, No. 1, this is a public health issue.” 

Lednovich is in a three-way re-election race for his Commission seat, while the only person running for Mayor on the ballot this time is Commissioner Bradley Bean.

A loose group of conservationists, health advocates and folks who don’t like their areas trashy have been working with municipalities and legislatures to enact these bans.

“Our volunteers know better than most people the impact of cigarette smoking on our beaches,” said Jan Cote-Merow, who spoke for the steering committee of local volunteer group Beach Ambassadors.

“Cigarettes are actually the No. 1 most common type of trash on city beaches. They’re also the most difficult to safely remove. We, as volunteers, can spend an hour or more picking up 50 to 100 cigarette butts. They not only foul the appearance of our beaches, but they cause real harm to humans and to animals.”

Commissioner David Sturges, who is a Beach Ambassador and walked the beach Monday evening for litter, agreed with Cote-Merow’s assessment of beach trash.

“I hate to remove people’s right to smoke, but it’s a public beach, and it’s atrocious for the animals, the turtles,” Sturges said.

The decision weighed on Bean as well.

“Even though I’m not a smoker, I still believe I should fight for individuals’ rights and individual choice, and I don’t think that we should be getting in that way,” Bean said.

He was the only “no” vote while the rest of the Commission voted to approve. 

The ordinance defines smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, carrying, or possessing any lighted tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and any other lighted tobacco product.”

There is the cigar and pipe loophole, however.

“Smoking is a public health nuisance and is strictly prohibited in all City parks and on City beaches, with the exception of the smoking of cigars that do not contain a filter or plastic tip or the smoking of pipe tobacco in a pipe,” per the ordinance.

Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters said during the Session that his bill that allowed the ordinance, SB 224, is about freedom.

“It’s about freedom for tourists and individuals and giving the freedom of not having to put your hands in sand and pull out the ugly cigarette butts everyone sees in the sand,” he said.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook: facebook.com/wes.wolfe

One comment

  • John Chaney

    June 22, 2022 at 11:39 pm

    Cigars and marijuana smoke are more stinky than cigarettes. If the cigars have a plastic filter like a black and mild that would be worse than a filter.


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