Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gulfport vice mayor wants smoking ban for beaches and parks

Vice Mayor David Hastings wants Gulfport to ban smoking on the beach and in other public places, joining other Florida cities that have nonsmoking rules or resolutions. 

PATTI EWALD | Special to the Times

Vice Mayor David Hastings wants Gulfport to ban smoking on the beach and in other public places, joining other Florida cities that have nonsmoking rules or resolutions. 

GULFPORT — He was sweating profusely that Saturday morning, a hat keeping the sun off his face as he scooped up trash along 49th Street with other Gulfport Neighbors volunteers.

Bend down, pick up a cigarette butt.

Bend down, pick up a plastic cup.

Bend down, pick up dozens of cigarette butts.

City Council member — and oral cancer survivor — David Hastings had had enough.

"I see cigarette butts in my sleep now. Ninety percent of what we see is cigarette butts," Hastings said.

So, last week, the vice mayor asked the council to consider an ordinance banning cigarettes on the city's beach, in its parks and in other public areas except in designated smoking areas.

"We are not alone. In the state of Florida, 51 municipalities have some nonsmoking ordinance or resolution in place," Hastings said.

State law has banned smoking in enclosed workplaces, restaurants and public places since July 1, 2003. Bars are exempt.

"The state board of health will provide no-smoking signs free of charge," Hastings said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.5 percent of the over-18 population in Florida smokes. That's a little over 2.5 million people.

The national median is 18.4 percent. Florida ranks 18th among states.

Council member Sam Henderson was a little apprehensive.

"It needs discussion. I don't want to take away people's rights," he said.

But Hastings argued, "It's time. We can't have our beaches and parks littered with cigarette butts. They don't go away."

There's a snag. Florida law prevents local governments from enacting smoke-free regulations: "This legislation expressly pre-empts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject."

Other cities and counties, though, have passed ordinances in spite of this — including Sarasota County, which prohibits smoking on its beaches.

Hastings is on a mission.

"We don't think it's constitutional for the state to do this," he said. "There have been legal opinions that if ever challenged, the state would lose. There have been attempts to get the state to change, but for one reason or another, it hasn't advanced. The cities are saying, 'How dare you?' to the state. 'What gives you the right to say we can't look out for the citizens in our community?' "

The council is expected to discuss the matter at an upcoming workshop.

Gulfport vice mayor wants smoking ban for beaches and parks 08/27/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Sunny skies, drier air dominate throughout Tampa Bay region

    Weather

    Drier air continues to filter into the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday, with clear skies and a slight chance of light rain during the afternoon.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Florida education news: Makeup days, graduation honors, sex education and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: Hillsborough County schools will eliminate four early release days to meet minimum state time per course, after missing seven days because of Hurricane Irma. • Indian …

    School classrooms are back up and running after Hurricane Irma. Districts are now setting makeup schedules for time missed.
  3. Rick and Tom podcast: Bucs' Gerald McCoy frustrated with disrespectful fans

    Bucs

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss Gerald McCoy's latest comments on disrespectful fans who attack his teammates, Donald Trump, protests by DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, and his respect for the …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) warms up before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  4. Tampa heading into several tough budget years

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Less pain now, more pain later.

    The Tampa City Council will hold a final public hearing on the proposed 2018 city budget and property tax rate at 5 p.m. Thursday on the third floor of Old City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.
  5. The Daystarter: Rick vs. Rick 2.0 tonight; Bucs' McCoy says some fans cross line; Trump associate to testify; helicopter crashes onto Odessa roof

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

     

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]