Police spread the word about Clearwater's new smoking ban on beaches and parks
The police department is working with hotels and beach commanders on flyers, signs and social media to spread the word about the ban on smoking and vaping before handing out citations.
Clearwater police are working on an information campaign to let visitors know that cigarette smoking and vaping are now illegal on the beach and in city parks.
Interim Police Chief Michael Walek said it's not fair for a family of four vacationing from England or other places where the attitudes toward smoking may be a little more relaxed, to be fined $118 for smoking.
Instead, he said his department is working with hotels and his beach commander to put together flyers, post signs, and distribute information on social media to spread the word about the new ban, before handing out citations.
Clearwater leaders passed the ordinance after the governor signed House Bill 105, which allows local lawmakers to ban smoking on beaches and in public parks, with an eye toward reducing secondhand smoke and the pollution and environmental damage caused by cigarette butts.
The Ocean Conservancy reports that in the past three decades, cigarette butts have been among the biggest offenders when it comes to Florida beach cleanups. And they break down into microplastics which can threaten the health and reproductive cycle of flora and fauna of the sea, and humans who eat the affected sea life.
Walek said his department has been working with St. Petersburg, which has a similar ordinance in place, for uniformity. Sarasota and Longboat Key also have cigarette smoking bans on their beaches.
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