On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners passed a no smoking ban that will prohibit smoking and vaping within all County-owned public parks and public beaches.
The smoking ban is made possible by Chapter 2022-213, a law signed by Governor DeSantis on June 24, 2022, which amended the Florida Clean Air Act to allow counties and municipalities to restrict smoking in public beaches and parks they own.
- Several other counties and cities in Florida have already enacted ordinances banning smoking in their public parks or beaches, including Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach and Pensacola.
According to Deputy County Administrator Craig Coffey, the main complaints the county receives are about smoking debris rather than actual smoking. Coffey says that smoking debris, including plastic vaping cartridges, is found at all of the county’s parks and beaches, and is particularly prevalent on the beaches.
- During the most recent International Beach Cleanup Day in September, volunteers collected 8,000 cigarette butts from 6 area beaches.
In response to this issue, an ordinance amendment to Section 16-43 does the following:
- (c) Smoking and vaping prohibited within County-owned public parks and public beaches. It shall be prohibited for any person in or on any County-owned public park or public beach to smoke, burn, ignite, inhale, exhale or consume any cigarette, pipe, lighted tobacco product, electronic cigarette, or vapor producing device other than an unfiltered cigar.
The exception of unfiltered cigars is preempted by the state.