Gulfport Moves Forward With Proposed Smoking Ban on Beaches, Play Areas

In a workshop at Gulfport City Hall Thursday, the city council agreed to consider a smoking ban on city beaches and play areas used by children. Protecting children from second-hand smoke and reducing litter are the two main goals.

Gulfport came once step closer to banning smoking on city beaches. However, instead of limiting smoking only on beaches, the proposed rule will now also apply to play areas frequented by children.

At Thursday's City Council Workshop at Gulfport City Call, council members discussed Ordinance 2011-13, which initially asked the city council to "adopt a reasonable ordinance to make the City of Gulfport's beach area tobacco-free."

Vice Mayor David Hastings began the conversation by reminding the council of his stance against smoking. He then referred to the success Sarasota County had with a similar ban.

"Sarasota tried the education route. Sarasota tried the fine route. There were three different things Sarasota tried," Hastings said. "And nothing worked."

"Sarasota County then enacted a beach ban ordinance countywide. Since then, two of the cities in there have also joined," Hastings added, "and they felt it has worked."

"There's tons and tons of health reasons why," Hastings said. "Now—believe it or not—they have come out with something called 'third-hand' smoke."

"That is smoke that actually would sit on an outside bench," Hastings said. "Residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of surfaces by tobacco smoke."

"The only way to protect non-smokers from third-hand smoke is with a smoke-free environment," he added.

Council Member Sam Henderson wanted to clarify his position on a smoking ban.

"I don’t think anyone is doubting the health issues in any way," Henderson said. "I don’t think we are as far apart as it has been laid out."

Henderson was referring to the September 6 council meeting where he raised a concern about a ban on smoking and the impact on "people's rights." It gave many a feeling that he would be opposed to Hastings' proposal.

In the workshop, Henderson repeated his opinion that it was "unfair to say all smokers are litterbugs," but he was open to look at a limited ordinance prohibiting smoking. He said he would consider a way that would include beaches and public areas frequented by children, with perhaps a one-year test run. The probationary period would be to assess the extent and costs of enforcement of such a ban.

"I'm trying to meet you guys in the middle," Henderson said. "I'm not going to vote for every park in the city."  

All of the council members agreed that a smoking ordinance, which reached beyond the beaches but limited to children's play areas, was a "good start."

Mayor Mike Yakes suggested that some areas, such as Clam Bayou and Veteran's park, would be made exempt from becoming a tobacco-free area.

"I don’t support Clam Bayou on the basis is that is a fishing place where people do put a pole in hand and try to catch a fish and relax," Yakes said. "That is an adult place."

Ordinance 2011-13 is expected to return to a vote by Gulfport City Council sometime next month. The council agreed that the ordinance would have two main goals: to protect children from second-hand—or third-hand—smoke, and to reduce litter on Gulfport's beaches and recreation areas used by children.

The next step is public input and a vote. The Gulfport City Council will meet again on October 4, 2011 at 7 p.m. Gulfport City Hall is located at 2401 53rd St. S.

john davidson February 06, 2013 at 03:19 PM
The final fitting end to this story Charlene Beach Smoking Ban Lifted Gulfport City Council members unanimously voted to remove the smoking ban on the beach to end a lawsuit that claimed the ban was unconstitutional. http://gulfport.patch.com/articles/beach-smoking-ban-lifted
CJ February 06, 2013 at 03:32 PM
As a former smoker I am laughing knowing how at ease many smokers must feel now and breathe a sigh of relief...or I guess that is sort of a poor choice of words. How about, they can temporarily rejoice for now? ''The final fitting end'' is a little boastful , though. I would say you guys should enjoy yourselves while you can. Nothing wrong with that. The fat lady has not sung yet.
CJ February 06, 2013 at 03:38 PM
JohnE (as in rotten)...I would have been dissapointed if you did not show up...I have been wonderiong what has taken you so long to respond? Have recent fingers surgery or something? How's your carreer as an Astronaut, Navy Seal Diver, Policeman, and all those other rediculous things you have listed going? Don't wear out your dancing shoes over this.
CJ February 06, 2013 at 06:25 PM
With you on the beach, JohnE, that is enough of anything related to a butt.
CJ February 06, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Ok, JohnE...I will read it and weep and agree it is sad...and then I will wipe my eyes with toilet paer that has your name printed on it.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »