City commissioners approved the ordinance in a public hearing. Unfiltered cigarettes and vaping are excluded. For the rest of the nicotine products, there will be fines and arrests for those who violate the measure
The city of Miami Beach has banned cigarettes on its beaches and parks starting in 2023.
As of January 1, 2023, filtered cigarettes and other nicotine products will be smoke-free on beaches and public parks in Miami Beach. Violations of this new ordinance promoted by commissioner Alex Fernández, also deputy mayor of the city, could lead to fines of up to USD 500 and 60 days in jail.
Enforcement of the rule will be the responsibility of the police, who have the discretion to issue prior warnings if they deem it appropriate. The approved restriction will not be extended to vaping devices or tobacco products without filters because the measure is based on environmental reasons.
The filters are made of plastic microfibers, which delays their biodegradation process for years. They also contain toxic materials, such as arsenic, which affect the animals that digest them, especially shorebirds.
The filters contain microplastics that are harmful to the environment. (JuanMonino/E+/Getty Images)
Miami Beach and other coastal cities have wanted to ban smoking on the beach for years, but a Florida state law prevented them from doing so: it was considered their power of state legislators. That changed on July 1, 2022, after Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new bill giving cities the right to ban smoking on the beach. Pompano Beach immediately imposed a ban. Other cities, such as Ft. Lauderdale Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton and Delray Beach have done so or will soon do so.
Fernandez, promoter of the measure, argued: “We have the most iconic beaches in the world. It's our responsibility to keep them safe, healthy, to make sure they're pristine.” Also the mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelbert, said he was “delighted” to finally be able to adopt that decision. “I'm tired of the plague of cigarette butts and secondhand smoke that too often invades our public spaces,” he said.
Miami Beach Commissioner and Deputy Mayor Alex Fernández was the promoter of the new measure. (@alexjfernandez)
For commissioner Ricky Arriola, the only vote against who lost to five in favor, there are more important tasks that the authorities must assume. “We shouldn't be enforcing a law like this. The police have pressing public safety issues, much more important than taking our precious resources to walk seven miles (11.27 kilometers) along the beach telling people to put out their cigarettes.”