The Lido and North Lido beaches will soon have designated smoking areas. Sarasota city commissioners voted April 20 to approve the designated areas in the parking lots of those beaches.
Sarasota County adopted a beach smoking ban in 2007 and created designated smoking areas at beaches, such as Siesta Key Beach. Last year, the city enacted a beach-smoking ban, but, at the time, did not create any places for smokers to light up. The vote last week fixes that.
Signs in the parking lot will alert smokers to the designated smoking areas, and receptacles will be placed there for cigarette butts, which is the reason for the ban in the first place.
“We wanted to adopt the county’s ordinance because of the litter, not because of the smoking habit itself,” said Todd Kucharski, Sarasota public works general manager.
The commission vote was 4-1, with Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner dissenting. He voted against the ban last year and said he did so again, because the ban includes chewing tobacco.
“I think that’s pretty Draconian,” Kirschner said. “Most people hooked on tobacco need an alternative, even though chewing tobacco may not be desirable to some.”
Kirschner said if the point was to rid the beaches of non-biodegradable cigarette butts, he doesn’t know why chewing tobacco was included in the ban.
The designated smoking areas are expected to be put in place within a month.