The Atlantic Beach City Commission unanimously adopted a new law Monday prohibiting smoking cigarettes in public parks, on the beach, and at beach accesses. Effectively immediately, the new law enables police to write $75 tickets to violators. Vaping and unfiltered cigars are exempt from the law.
Florida cities were prohibited from enacting the smoking bans on public property outdoors until July 1, when a new state law went into effect. More than a dozen Florida coastal cities have since adopted smoking bans.
Mayor Ellen Glasser, the City of Atlantic Beach Environmental Stewardship Committee, and nonprofit education organizations Beaches Go Green and Tobacco Free Jacksonville spearheaded the efforts to ban smoking in parks and on the beach in Atlantic Beach.
“This is not about giving people tickets,” Glasser said during Monday’s meeting before the Commission vote. “It’s about educating people, and hopefully we’ll have less cigarette butts on our beaches and in parks.”
Dr. Michael Waters, a physician who serves on the Atlantic Beach City Commission, agreed.
“I’m trying to get people to stop smoking all the time,” he said. “I have no problem with this.
Beaches Go Green Founder Anne Marie Moquin told the City Commission that while cigarettes are deadly and otherwise harmful to humans who smoke them and who are exposed to second-hand smoke, cigarette butts may be the most littered item in the world. She said that there are more than 250 harmful chemicals in cigarettes, including arsenic and lead, which make their way into soil and water supply.
“The ordinance is needed to protect the food that we grow and the oceans that we so heavily depend on,” Moquin said.
Glasser said she hasn’t heard from any residents who oppose the new law.
“I think it’s a great step in the right direction for our quality of life,” she said.