New proposed bill would make smoking tobacco on the beach illegal

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Soft sand, clear water and cigarette debris. An eyesore for beach goers like Laura Wagner.

“You want to see shells and what’s natural to the beach,” Wagner said. “You don’t want to be seeing cigarette butts.”

But the debris isn’t the only issue for Wagner, it’s the smell too.

“It was people right in front of us and, of course, it just blew back in our faces all day long. And you’re trying to enjoy the fresh air and the sun, and you get that [cigarette smoke] in your face,” Wagner said.

But, this could soon change. State Senator Joe Gruters is now pushing to outlaw smoking on all public beaches in Florida.

“It’s not wrong for the to ban it,” said Fort Myers Beach visitor Chris Humes. I’m a smoker, but I try to keep it away from other people.

If approved, it would fine first-time offender $25, or 10 hours of community service for smoking on the beach.

“Less littering, fresher air for everybody to enjoy and no secondhand smoke for your health,” Wagner said.

But some people say the ban isn’t worth it.

“It seems a bit aggressive to me, but I’m also a smoker so I’m biased,” said Fort Myers Beach visitor Cory Scholtz.

Others think a total ban is unnecessary, and instead there should be a designated smoking area.

“There should be designated smoking areas on the beach. You don’t have to walk half a mile back to your car to smoke cigarettes,” Humes said.

As of right now, the bill says it would only ban smoking tobacco but does not address vaping.

If the bill passes, it could go into effect July 1.

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