Sarasota County bans smoking on beaches12/12/07 Seán Kinane
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Sarasota County Commissioners voted 4-1 yesterday to ban smoking on all county park beaches. Commissioner Shannon Staub, who represents District 3, the southern part of the county, said the ordinance would take effect within the next 90 days as the county erects signs notifying beachgoers.
The fine for smoking on Sarastota County beaches will be $97. But Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Supervisor Rob LaDue said that first offenders should just receive a warning.
Straub said the litter from cigarette butts harms people, pets, and wildlife.
Sandra Washington is manager of the county program Keep Sarasota Beautiful. She supports the decision to ban smoking on beaches.
Washington said her group is trying to get the cities in Sarasota County to enact their own beach smoking bans. Similar beach smoking bans in other parts of the country have cut down on littering, according to Washington.
Commissioner Jon Thaxton was the lone vote against the ordinance, but he was not available for comment. Commissioner Staub said she heard much support for the smoking ban, but very few people contacted her in opposition.
District 1, in the north of Sarasota County, is represented by Commissioner Paul Mercier. He concurred that there was not a vocal opposition to the beach smoking ban.