Panama City Beach bans smoking at city beaches and parks

In a 3-2 vote, the city decided to move forward with a smoking ban on city properties, which includes a portion of the beach.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Smoking and vaping are now illegal at some of the most popular spots in Panama City Beach.

No more butts on city beaches. Cigarette butts that is.

“We look around and we do see a lot of these cigarette butts all over the place. And that doesn’t represent a beautiful pristine beach like what we have,” Michelle Carter, a Panama City Beach resident, said.

This past summer, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill allowing cities to prohibit smoking at beaches and parks. In a three-to-two vote Thursday, city leaders approved the ban ordinance. That means no smoking or vaping on city-owned beaches.

“Important that everyone understands that the city-owned beach aspect is just about 400 feet on either side of the city pier,” Panama City Beach Councilman Michael Jarman said. “You’re used to seeing small areas for smokers. This is a small area for non-smokers.”

Some residents said it’s a step in the right direction.

“I don’t think smoking should be allowed on the entire 27 miles of beaches. But today passing this ordinance like Mr. Jarman had said, it’s a good start,” Carter said.

The law doesn’t apply to unfiltered cigars.

“If it were me I probably would have included everything. But that we are not able to add to what the state legislator has decided and the governor has signed it,” Jarman said.

It also includes all city parks, which means Frank Brown Park, Aaron Bessant Park, Maggi Still Park, Scott Field, Popeye Park, Conservation Park, and even Gayles Trails.

“Now you can still go to your vehicle and smoke. You can walk on the property and smoke. But inside the park, you’re not going to be able to,” Jarman said.

The law was designed to give those around you a chance to breathe, as part of Florida’s Clean Air Act.

“I’ve learned a lot more about secondhand smoke and about how it’s harmful to people to breathe in so,” Carter said.

The city plans to put up signs soon to let residents and visitors know. If you’re caught lighting up where you’re not supposed to, it’ll cost you. Officials haven’t decided on how much the fines will be yet.

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