For the time being, it will still be legal to light up on Sarasota County-owned beaches and in parks. During Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, Commissioner Nancy Detert asked that a discussion about a proposed smoking ban be postponed.
House Bill 105, which amended the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act and renamed it the Florida Clean Air Act, allows cities and counties to impose such restrictions, which do not apply to unfiltered cigars and pipe tobacco use. In her motion to continue the agenda item, Detert explained the public has not been adequately educated about the proposal.
During its Sept. 6 meeting, the Sarasota City Commission initially approved a smoking ban in all city-owned parks and beaches, then passed it on second reading as consent agenda item on Oct. 3.
On Tuesday, County Commissioner Christian Ziegler hinted that a smoking ban may not be such an easy sell countywide.
“I know there are a lot of people that want to ban smoking at our beaches, and I know there’s a lot of public interest in it, but I think it is important for the public to understand what’s going on and what the various options are,” Ziegler said. “The options are a total ban in our parks. The second is a total ban in our parks but have a designated area. And then the third option would be to not ban smoking at any of our parks and beaches.
“I think it’s important to put that out there for the public and I would encourage them to contact us and let us know where they stand on it.”
In addition to the city of Sarasota, action on the state’s enabling legislation by neighboring jurisdictions thus far include:
- Charlotte County has drafted an ordinance proposing amendments to prohibit smoking and vaping in all beaches and parks. It will go to public hearing this month.
- The city of St. Petersburg has drafted an ordinance proposing amendments to prohibit smoking and vaping within all beaches and parks.
- The Longboat Key Town Commission gave initial approval of an ordinance that adds smoking to the list of prohibited activities within all public beaches and parks. It will consider final approval at its Oct. 17 meeting.
- The North Port City Commission held a discussion on Sept. 13 but has taken no further action.
- The city of Venice on Sept. 13 directed staff to draft an ordinance to prohibit smoking in public beaches and parks.
- The city of Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island approved a smoking ban on beaches and in parks on Sept. 16.
Neither Manatee, Collier or Lee counties have taken any action.
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