Sun Sentinel

The new smoking ban frontier: removing butts from beaches

A Sarasota County ban on smoking at the beach was overturned in court, so now state legislators are looking to ban it statewide The dispute is about litter, not second-hand smoke.

Smokers in Florida can't light up in restaurants, stores, offices and government buildings. Now one Florida state senator wants to add another location to the no-smoking list: the state's beaches.

Now that indoor smoking bans have largely succeeded, anti-tobacco forces are turning their attention to outdoor spots such as beaches and parks. But their argument is no longer focused on the health effects of second-hand smoke. Instead, measures like SB 218 by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, are about eliminating litter — getting butts off beaches.

"To me this is like an easy thing to support," said Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University coastal geology professor known as "Dr. Beach" for his annual ranking of the world's best beaches. "Cigarette butts are the number one type of litter on beaches, by volume. They are disgusting."

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