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SWFL reactions mixed to new beach smoking ban

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 18:48:44-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Smoking on some Southwest Florida beaches may come to an end thanks to a new state law.

It gives counties and cities the choice of banning smoking on their local beaches or public parks that they own, except for unfiltered cigars.

The new law is an expansion of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, changing its name to the Florida Clean Air Act due to its broader language.

So far, Lee County and several of its cities including Cape Coral and Fort Myers Beach haven't discussed a possible ban, but it's a different story for Collier County.

County Commissioner Burt Saunders showed interest in adding a list of future agenda items at a June 28th Board of County Commissioners meeting.

“I want to give everybody a chance to discuss it," said Commissioner Saunders during that meeting. "And then, if there’s public and commission support to draft an ordinance during the summer when we're working on the planning and all the things to get us caught up with planning issues, just add that to the list," he said.

On Fort Myers Beach, reactions to the law were mixed.

“It’s just so incredulous that you can’t smoke on the beach," says Liz McGarey, a Port Charlotte resident who enjoys spending her off time soaking up the rays. She says she's been a smoker since she was 14 years old.

“I take care of my own waste, just as anybody else would. And if they aren’t, then you know what? That’s their problem," she added.

But people like Elizabeth Hagler say otherwise. She thinks a smoking ban could be a good idea for Fort Myers Beach due to the countless cigarette butts she sees during her trips to the beach.

“It’s more of our responsibility to keep the beaches a place that’s clean, or we’re not going to have a beautiful place like Fort Myers," she says.

Fox 4 will keep you updated on which cities, if any, take action.