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Smoke Free Beaches and Parks, Florida!

06 • 24 • 2022

Smoke Free Beaches and Parks, Florida!

Goal: to support the rights of Florida counties and municipalities to regulate smoking on their own beaches and parks

Victory! Surfrider Foundation supports the rights of Florida counties and municipalities to regulate smoking on their own public beaches and parks. Cigarette butts are the most abundant debris at every coastal cleanup across Florida. Floridians want the right to enjoy our beaches and parks smoke-free; protecting our health and our wildlife. HB 105 Regulation of Smoking by Counties and Municipalities was signed by Governor DeSantis on June 24, 2022. Read the full bill text here

Surfrider's chapter network and members have advocated tirelessly to see this bill pass over the years and celebrate this plastic pollution victory. 

Two plastic pollution control bills, HB105 Regulation of Smoking by Counties and Municipalities and SB 224 Regulation of Smoking in Public Places  finally made their way back to the Florida House and Senate in the 2022 session. Surfrider Foundation volunteers across the state have been deeply impacted by the sheer volume of cigarette butts collected on our beaches. In fact, cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with 4.5 trillion butts littered every year. They account for one in five of every item collected during beach cleanups.

For the past 5 years, Surfrider Foundation Chapters and Clubs have advocated for litter control and advocated for legislators to give the locals back the right to regulate smoking on their public beaches and parks. Volunteers painstakingly separated cigarette butts and counted them to enter into NOAA's Debris system.

Communities who advocate for public health limit exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking on airplanes, buses, in stores, schools and restaurants. Visitors of beaches and parks should also be free from this carcinogenic pollutant. American Lung Association also advocated to pass this bill. 

Since smoking has been preempted to the state, local communities have not had the right to pass ordinances to protect their coasts, parks and wildlife from this dangerous plastic litter despite a strong desire and need to do so. Representative Thad Altman, Representative Randy Fine and Senator Gruters pushed hard to get this bill finally over the line this session! 

Organic chemicals and heavy metals leach from cigarette butts into our waterways and ocean. Birds and sea mammals line their nests with cigarette filters and ingest them. As cigarette butts are plastic, made from 12,000 individual strands of cellulose acetate (a synthetic plastic fiber) that breaks down into microplastics, they are never fully biodegradeable. They contaminate our water, bioaccumulate in our food supply and pollute our parks and beaches. 

Many states and municipalities have already made beaches smoke free. Smoking restrictions at parks and beaches lead to better conditions in beaches and parks for aquatic ecosystems, marine life, and improve overall beach and park aestehetic. Communities littered with cigarette butts are less appealing to tourists and visitors. No one wants to vacation at a dirty beach! 

Florida now will allow locals to protect what they love and pass ordinances to prohibit smoking on public beaches and parks! Surfrider will continue to engage its grassroots activist network in Florida to pass bans in municipalities across the state.