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Alabama bans smoking on public beach

MGN Online

The sugar-white sand in Gulf Shores is Alabama's most popular half-mile stretch of public beachfront.

Posted: Jan 10, 2019 10:19 AM

GULF SHORES, Ala. (AP) — The sugar-white sand in Gulf Shores is Alabama's most popular half-mile stretch of public beachfront. This area also is undergoing $15 million in renovations and city officials want to keep it looking nice. So, in June, city officials adopted a wide-ranging list of regulations that included an Alabama first: The public beachfront became smoke-free.

The ban is part of a national trend as politicians try to keep popular attractions from looking like ashtrays and turning away tourists, Al.com reported .

In New Jersey, a new law goes into effect on Jan. 16 banning any kind of tobacco use on beaches or boardwalks, with offenders fined up to $1,000. In Florida, lawmakers are considering legislation that would implement a wide-ranging ban on smoking at any public beach, empowering law enforcers to cite offenders.

"What Florida is doing is not surprising," said Grant Brown, recreation and cultural affairs director with the city of Gulf Shores, comparing smoking bans on beaches with restrictions to smoking at outdoor athletic stadiums.

Alabama has 52 miles of beaches, which includes state property and Mobile and Baldwin counties. Dauphin Island, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have jurisdiction over the most popular public beach spots that fuel a significant chunk of Alabama's $14.3 billion tourism industry.

The smoke-free public beach in Alabama is part of an ordinance that also bans pets, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, open fires, drones, and laser pointers. The ordinance makes exceptions for service animals.

Brown said enforcement is not rigorous but fines are stiff. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and jail time. The Gulf Shores ordinance represented the first time an Alabama governing body adopted a smoking ban to also include e-cigarettes, anywhere along a beachfront.

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would criminalize smoking on public beaches, levying $25 fines on offenders or up to 10 hours of community service. Alabama beach cities are keeping an eye on the Florida measure, with an interest in possibly following suit. Florida has had a statewide indoor smoking ban in place 2003, although bars are exempt.

"We'll be curious to see how Florida proceeds," said Phillip West, coastal resource director for Orange Beach. "If it passes, we'll be interested in how they enforce it and what kind of push back they might get."

"I am aware of what's being pursued in Florida and (a beach smoking ban) has come up before in the past. But there have been no heavy conversations about it," said Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier.

In Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, both cities are now three years into the "Leave Only Footprints" campaign which advocates against beach litter, among other things. Brown said cigarette butts remain an issue.

"We sift the sands and get quite a few cigarette butts as we clean the beaches," he said.

The police "won't be down there writing tickets," Brown said. But signage is in the works alerting beach visitors about the smoking ban.

"The goal is not to have the beach turned into an ash tray," he said.

Not everyone is on board: Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon doesn't see the need to add regulations enforcing cigarette smoking, and doesn't believe it's a big problem.

"I really don't want to see government getting involved in any personal issues unless absolutely drug into it because of a public safety issue," Kennon said. "I don't see any issue with smoking on the beaches here. I don't even know if it's a perceived problem here. I think we would stay out of it."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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