Among the new laws that came into force in Florida on July 1, there is one that indicates that municipalities have the authority to legislate and regulate the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products on beaches and public parks, with the exception of unfiltered cigarettes or cigars.
Based on this law, the Miami Beach Commissioner, alex fernandezproposed a law that would ban cigarette smoking on Miami Beach beaches and in city parks. The proposal was discussed for the first time this week and received a favorable first vote.
“I believe that we are facing a good opportunity to continue being leaders in environmental protection measures, in having clean beaches and in leading a healthy lifestyle.”, Commissioner Fernandez told his colleagues when he presented the project.
While there will be a public hearing on the matter and a final vote on September 14In the first instance, the commission approved the measure by 4 votes in favor against 2 against.
Fernandez argued that there are environmental issues regarding cigarettes to consider, such as the fact that butts – which are often left in the sand – have plastic filters that take decades to biodegrade. The city attorney sent a memorandum supporting the measure stating that “by far” cigarette butts are the biggest litter item on Miami Beach.
The measure not only asks residents not to smoke on beaches and parks, but also includes fines for those who do: with a maximum of up to $500 and up to 60 days in prison for those who repeatedly commit the same offense.
Mayor Dan Gelber He was in favor of the measure -although he does not have a vote in the commission-. Among the two commissioners who voted against is Ricky Arriola who expressed concern because he believes the measure violates personal freedoms. “These are open spaces. I think we are over-regulating in this case,” Arriola said.
It would be the police officers who patrol the beaches and parks who would be in charge of ensuring that there is no smoking, and who would have the task of fining those who violate the measure if it has final approval.
It’s not the first time Miami Beach has taken a tough stance on smoking. In 2019, even when Miami Dade County assured that they would not impose penalties on those who smoke marijuana, the legislative branch of the small city coastal prohibited the consumption of marijuana in public spaces. Although the measure has been in force since then, there have been no reported cases of people who have had to pay fines, much less go to prison for smoking marijuana in Miami Beach.
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