Sarasota News Leader

01/11/2013

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OPINION SIESTA BEACH: AMERICA'S NO. 1 ASHTRAY? EDITORIAL Who knew that the City of Sarasota's fullcourt press against the homeless would result in Siesta Beach, last year's No. 1 Beach in America, becoming potentially a giant repository for thousands and thousands of carcinogenic cigarette butts? Apparently, that is exactly what has happened. Sarasota ruled that the ordinance overstepped the city's authority, as the state had reserved to itself sole control of smoking regulation under the Clean Indoor Air Act, which took effect in 2003. As a consequence, all local regulation of smoking by municipal and county governments in Florida was invalidated. Included in that sweeping change was SiThe city's ordinance, passed in June 2011, for- esta Key Public Beach, on which the county banned smoking several years ago. Those bade tobacco use outdoors in city parks. It flouting the ban were subject to a $100 fine. was widely recognized as a further attempt But no more. to make those parks less attractive to the Now beachgoers will homeless who gathThe smoking ban on Siesta Beach be encouraged not to ered there. was a significant factor in catapulting it smoke, but they will But on Dec. 10, 2012, from a perennial Top Five ranking to the be told they are free to do so if they wish, a judge in the 12th Ju- No. 1 spot. dicial Circuit Court in without fear of fines.

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