More than a decade after the city of Sarasota unsuccessfully attempted to ban smoking on city-owned beaches, smoking cigarettes and filtered cigars will soon be prohibited not only on beaches but in city-owned parks as well.
Now backed by state legislation in the form of House Bill 105, city commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved the first reading of two ordinances intended primarily to prevent the proliferation of cigarette butts on beaches and in city parks, with the added benefit of mitigating second-hand smoke inhaled by others seeking to enjoy the public spaces.
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. Commissioners first approved an ordinance to ban smoking on beaches and beach-adjacent parks, then followed that with one that bans it in all city parks.
That’s good news for nonsmokers and those who seek to protect the environment, but not so much for smokers, which was a point of concern expressed by commissioners Hagen Brody and Liz Alpert.
“When I was in school in California, they prohibited smoking except for designated areas, and those designated areas were red benches,” Brody said. “It just seemed a little like they were being shamed in some way. I want to stay away from that.”
“I think maybe in the parks that we designate some areas where people can smoke,” Alpert added.
The commissioners appeared to be in favor of designated smoking areas — specifically parking lots — and left a potential option for those who are compelled to light up, courtesy of Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch.
“I would move that we direct the city manager to bring back a resolution addressing the designated parking area or smoking areas of the parking lots and potentially bring that before the Parks and Rec Board for recommendation,” said Ahearn-Koch, whose motion was unanimously approved.
A second reading of the smoking ban ordinances has yet to be scheduled.
During a special meeting Tuesday evening, commissioners unanimously approved he first reading of the city's budget ordinance and approved the property rate for fiscal year 2022-23 at 3.00 mils.