Naples City Council voted Wednesday to ban smoking cigarettes and vaping on city-owned beaches and parks. This is part of House Bill 105, giving local municipalities the ability to restrict smoking, except for unfiltered cigars. Prior to this, it was unlawful for cities to restrict smoking in these areas.
The bill, part of the Florida Clean Air Act which went into effect July 1, has been adopted by cities around the state for both health and environmental reasons.
Plastic filters from cigarettes are the most popular piece of trash cleaned up from Florida beaches. The hope is for this bill to eliminate that issue. Since unfiltered cigars don’t contain any non-biodegradable ingredients, the product is not included in what cities can restrict.
The Florida Clean Air Act further aims to protect from the health hazards of second-hand smoke and vapor. Vaping has been considered an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its targeting of the younger population, which is why it is included in the ordinance.
There was debate by City Council on whether the Gordon River Greenway, which has areas owned by both the city and the county, should be included in the ban. For simplicity purposes, council agreed to implement the ordinance for the places of the greenway owned by city of Naples which are mainly around the Naples Airport. The new smoking ban will affect other areas like the Naples Pier, Naples Beach and all parks and recreation facilities within the city.
Both the first and second readings of this ordinance by City Council had unanimous support with brief discussion, and there were no public speakers present to voice opposition.
“I believe this has widespread support,” council member Ted Blankenship said during the first hearing of the ordinance. “Normally, I would be a little cautious about voting on an ordinance in a state of emergency when no public members have a chance [to be here], but this is one I think we talked about several times. I talked to HOA boards about it, I’ve heard from a lot of residents and I think it has widespread support within the city.”
This bill goes into effect immediately within the city limits. The Collier County Board of Commissioners and Marco Island City Council have not yet adopted this ordinance.