By: - January 2, 2019 12:20 pm

A state lawmaker wants to ban smoking on Florida beaches statewide.

Sarasota House Republican (and soon to be GOP state party chairman) Joe Gruters filed the no-smoking-on-the-beaches legislation for the 2019 legislative session. The draft bill would fine first-time violators $25  or 10 hours of community service.

Several cities and counties have passed local laws prohibiting smoking in Florida beaches and parks over the years. Sarasota County, for example,  passed a local ordinance banning smoking on public beaches a decade ago, but that law was overturned by a circuit court judge in 2012, who ruled that regulating smoking is a task left solely to the Legislature.

Florida lawmakers enacted legislation in 2003 that created smoke-free restaurants and workplaces, but the law also stated that only the Legislature could ban smoking in places like parks and beaches.

If Gruters’ bill passes when the Legislature meets this spring, it would be the first to apply statewide.

Around the U.S., New Jersey is the latest state to ban smoking at public beaches. First-time offenders face a $250 fine.

Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last fall in the Golden State.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.