NewsProtecting Paradise


Push for smoking restrictions at parks and beaches reignited

Lake Worth Beach Pier closed for high swells, Nov. 7, 2021
Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 18:00:27-05

State lawmakers are reigniting their push for smoking restrictions at local parks and beaches.

For the fourth time, Sarasota Senator Joe Gruters is sponsoring a bill (SB224) that would allow local counties and cities to implement smoking bans at beaches and parks.

Currently, only the state can restrict smoking in public places.

According to Ocean Conservancy, the oldest marine conservation non-profit, cigarette butts are the most common item found during beach cleanups.

Local resident and organizer of the Community Trash Warriors Ana Vergne said the bill is a step in the right direction.

“Right now, we are destroying our environment and not realizing what we’re doing to it and in the long term, it’s going to have such a detrimental effect on our children and our grandchildren,” said Vergne.

Every day she and her service dog, Spotter, spend their mornings picking up trash and waste left behind on Singer Island.

“Our philosophy is, if you see trash, pick it up, and our mission is zero trash community,” Vergne said.

The bill has already made it through its first committee with a unanimous vote.

If passed, the bill would go into effect July 1 and local municipalities would have to decide how to enforce it.