Alabama bans smoking on beach; should Florida be next?

Violators could face fines up to $500, jail time

People visit a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as Tropical Storm Gordon nears.
People visit a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as Tropical Storm Gordon nears. (WPMI via CNN)

GULF SHORES, Ala. – Gulf Shores' sugar-white sandy beaches are Alabama's most popular half-mile stretch of public beachfront.

It's also undergoing $15 million in renovations, and city officials want to keep it looking nice. So, in June, city officials adopted a wide-ranging list of regulations that included an Alabama first: The public beachfront became smoke free.

Al.com reports the ban is part of a national trend. From the beachfronts of New Jersey to Florida, politicians are looking to snuff the butts in an effort to lure tourists and keep the popular tourist attractions from looking like ashtrays.

The smoke-free public beach is part of an ordinance that also bans pets, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, open fires, drones and laser pointers

Gulf Shores Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Grant Brown says enforcement is not rigorous but fines are stiff. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and jail time.

Meanwhile, legislation filed by a Florida state senator from Sarasota would make smoking tobacco on public Sunshine State beaches illegal.

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Senate Bill 218 filed by Republican Sen. Joe Gruters would prohibit beachgoes from smoking tobacco on public beaches. If the legislation passes, law enforcement officers would issue citations to anyone smoking on a public beach, according to the bill.

Fines would not exceed $25 or more than 10 hours of community service.

If the bill makes it to incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk, it would go into effect July 1.

According to the Florida Senate website, a corresponding bill has not been filed in the House.