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Reducing Plastic Pollution One Beach (and One Butt) at a Time

In July, Governor DeSantis signed HB105, giving home rule back to coastal communities across the state to allow further regulation of cigarette smoking in municipally owned parks and beaches. Surfrider and its Florida network celebrated this momentous victory after years of tireless advocacy in the state legislature to reduce cigarette butt litter from entering our fragile waterways and harming marine life and water quality.

While this victory was won on the state stage, its efficacy hinges upon the actions of local governments across the state to adopt and enact beach and park smoking bans within their respective communities. This is where the power of Florida's chapter and activist network enters into the chat. Equipped with a toolkit created by regional and national staff, Florida's chapters set out to introduce and support beach smoking bans in their corner of the state, contributing to a groundswell of ordinances making waves from the Florida Keys to St. Petersburg.

Since July, Surfrider has supported or led six beach smoking ban campaigns, all victories for the Florida network in 2022 with the recent adoption of bans in St. Petersburg and Islamorada. Even more exciting? These campaigns only represent ordinances with direct Surfrider involvement. This means that there are many other communities across the state that are also taking on the task of decreasing cigarette butt litter through these local ordinances. Local beach smoking bans are a huge victory for Florida's beaches and ocean, and also represent a major milestone toward a monumental legislative task in Florida: repealing the existing state preemption on the regulation of most plastics. When it comes to reducing plastic pollution from entering Florida's waterways, it is the subtle, incremental changes in policy that yield the greatest benefit. HB105 and the resulting waves of local policy action help build the case for home rule to be returned to Florida's communities and to protect our ocean from the harmful effects of plastic.

With all the excitement around beach smoking bans in 2022, we look forward to engaging with Florida's legislators in 2023 to do even more for our beaches and waves, for all people!