SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - “I think it’s a good idea, they don’t need to be smoking out here on the beach,” said Bill Ansell.
The Venice resident supports a bill to have smoking banned from Florida’s public beaches.
“The main issue is that people throw their cigarette butts on the ground and they won’t pick them up, they leave them,” said Ansell.
Sarasota State Senator Joe Gruters is looking to do something about it. A recent bill he filed would allow individual counties to ban smoking on public beaches in Florida and county owned parks. A bill he filed last session which would’ve banned smoking on all of Florida’s public beaches was shot down in the Senate.
“We want to allow families to go to the beach and enjoy themselves without having to deal with second hand smoke," said Gruters. "And on top of that, this is all about cigarette butts left on the beach, people find it disgusting when they reach into the sand and pull one of these butts out.”
Sarasota resident Maryann Grady had been a long time smoker until she quit. She says that people should have the right to smoke on the beach if they choose to do so.
“I do believe that you shouldn’t smoke inside in restaurants, out in the public at the ocean I don’t see a problem with it, it’s just someplace they can go to smoke,” said Grady.
Sarasota County did ban smoking at it’s beaches for many years until it was overturned in 2013. That’s when a court decided the state had control over this type of law. Environmental groups say cigarette butts are the top pieces of trash found on beaches around the world.
If this smoking ban bill does pass, it would go into effect by next summer.