CLEARWATER, Fla. — 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 night. The ban went into effect immediately.
While those who are caught smoking in the prohibited areas could face civil infractions, city leaders stressed that this ordinance is more about education than punishment.
"The way I see it is we’re trying to change habits," one council member said during the first reading of the ordinance last week. "If you smoke, that’s totally cool, but just take your butts with you and not leave them in the sand."
These local bans were made possible by a state law known as the "Florida Clean Air Act" that went into effect in July 2022. The legislation gave local governments full authority to restrict smoking on beaches in any way they see fit.
Supporters of the smoking bans, like eco-activist Caulin Donaldson, consider them a welcome change to our wildlife and environment.
Known online as "Trash Caulin," he educates his more than 2 million TikTok followers on the importance of keeping our environment healthy.
"Cigarette butts are the number one thing I find every day," he said.
Caulin explained that cigarette butts have a chemical called cellulose acetate that can hurt our wildlife.
"I think it’s a great start," he said about the Clearwater ordinance. "Just realize this is a ban that is going to help us collectively."