CLOSINGS: View Closings

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.

Confirmed Cases: 110592

Reported Deaths: 3171
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7731171
DeSoto655177
Harrison478481
Jackson429178
Rankin380086
Madison371092
Lee339279
Forrest292777
Jones281682
Washington250697
Lafayette241342
Lauderdale2329130
Lamar212038
Bolivar197775
Oktibbeha194154
Neshoba1795111
Lowndes173662
Panola164736
Leflore158786
Sunflower156749
Warren151854
Monroe143672
Pontotoc143019
Pike135555
Lincoln133954
Copiah133336
Marshall130026
Coahoma122836
Scott122729
Grenada119637
Simpson117648
Yazoo116933
Union113825
Holmes113060
Tate112339
Leake111839
Itawamba108724
Pearl River107456
Adams104042
Prentiss100919
Wayne97921
Alcorn94412
George93217
Marion92642
Covington90825
Tippah84820
Newton84227
Chickasaw81724
Tallahatchie81725
Winston81421
Tishomingo78640
Hancock76527
Attala76325
Clarke70948
Clay66621
Jasper66016
Walthall63427
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith57716
Claiborne53016
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence48914
Yalobusha47914
Perry47522
Carroll45812
Greene44717
Stone44614
Amite41513
Quitman4096
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39311
Webster36313
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31615
Benton3004
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26210
Franklin2283
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 152272

Reported Deaths: 2621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22300372
Mobile14273314
Tuscaloosa9886132
Montgomery9615196
Madison895192
Shelby700260
Lee643066
Baldwin636967
Marshall425348
Calhoun408459
Etowah399149
Morgan393232
Houston362332
DeKalb313326
Elmore308152
St. Clair276742
Limestone268327
Walker264192
Talladega253634
Cullman223923
Lauderdale204340
Autauga198928
Franklin198131
Jackson197914
Russell18993
Colbert188927
Dallas184527
Blount182723
Chilton178731
Escambia170328
Covington164429
Coffee16299
Dale161551
Pike130112
Tallapoosa126986
Chambers126643
Clarke126116
Marion103929
Butler99640
Barbour9819
Marengo96421
Winston88613
Geneva8297
Pickens79317
Randolph79314
Lawrence78830
Bibb78513
Hale73729
Cherokee71414
Clay70312
Lowndes69827
Bullock63417
Henry6286
Monroe6259
Washington62012
Crenshaw58830
Perry5796
Conecuh55413
Wilcox55412
Fayette54012
Macon52819
Cleburne5207
Sumter46421
Lamar4555
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather