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Clearwater leaders prepare to ban smoking, vaping for beaches and parks

City council unanimously backed a smoking and vaping ban for public beaches and parks on Thursday.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — UPDATE: Smoking and vaping are now banned on all public beaches and parks in the city of Clearwater.

City council members made it official by finalizing the ordinance at their meeting Thursday, June 15. The ban went into effect immediately.

The previous story is below.


Next time you hit the sand in Clearwater, be aware that smoking and vaping may soon be banned on public beaches and in parks.

The new ordinance was approved on the first reading by the city council on Thursday. A final vote and approval is expected at a future council meeting.

One local man is happy to hear about the proposed ban as he has made it his mission to keep all Tampa Bay beaches clean.

Caulin Donaldson considers himself an eco-activist. He was born and raised in St Pete, currently living in Redington Beach. He noticed for years all the trash on the beaches and three years ago decided to do something about it.

He spends most days walking up and down the beach collecting plastic and trash. What his finds mostly, cigarette butts. "Cigarette butts are the number one thing I find every day," Caulin stated.

He is now known on social media as "Trash Caulin." He created a TikTok three years ago that has taken off. With more than 2 million followers, he is educating people the importance of why a healthy environment is so important and how you can help.

These cigarette butts can be harmful.

"Cigarette butts have this chemical called cellulose acetate," Caulin explained, which can hurt wildlife and our environment.

That’s why Clearwater City Council is preparing to pass the new ordinance.

"I think it’s a great start," Caulin said. "I hope it’s either enforce or follow at the very least."

Clearwater City Council members expressed this is more about educating than punishing.

"The way I see it is we’re trying to change habits," one council member stated during Thursday's meeting.

The ordinance isn’t to tell people they shouldn’t smoke, it's to stop littering.

"If you smoke, that’s totally cool, but just take her butts with you and not leave them in the sand," he said.

One way Caulin is encouraging people to do that is with a "vote with your butt" box.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

He was able to get permission to put a box on Redington Beach that allows people to dispose of their cigarettes. 

Whether it’s a box or a ban on the beach, the ultimate goal is to protect Florida's precious natural resources. "Just realize this is a ban that is going to help us collectively," Caulin stated. 

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect Clearwater city leaders approved a first reading of the ordinance, not approving it outright. Its final passage is expected at a future council meeting.

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