DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County government staff is looking to ban smoking at public parks and beaches.

County staff presented a proposal to the board to consider the ban for three major reasons:

  1. Litter Reduction
  2. Clean Water/ Microplastic reduction
  3. Fish and Wildlife Protection

The Florida legislature amended the Clean Air Act in 2022 allowing counties and municipalities to dictate the policy around smoking in public spaces.

Recently, Fort Walton Beach passed a motion to ban smoking at all parks and beaches that is already in place.

The County operates public beaches along Okaloosa Island, a ban would be up for board approval following public hearings scheduled for Jan. 17.

  • Unfiltered cigars are exempt from the amendment and any local ordinance changes.

The county ban would be a change to the rules for prohibited acts at public parks and beaches. Enforcement and penalties would remain the same as it is for glass containers and other prohibited items.

Deputy County Administrator Craig Coffey expressed that the ban will not be a 100% fix on smoking at the beaches but hopes it will deter the habit in public spaces.

“We have to be realistic with our expectations,” said Coffey. “This will not be the end all be all that will stop this on the beach. Hopefully, it will make people more aware of it, it will put our intent and goals of what we want people to do when they are at the beach no different than glass bottles.”

Enforcement will start with education before moving into warnings and tickets as monitored by beach patrol staff. County staff has plans to bring new enforcement options for board approval at the next county meeting on Jan. 17.

Destin City Council also brought up the smoking ban at Tuesday’s meeting. City staff will bring an ordinance for council consideration and public discussion to ban smoking in public spaces at the next meeting on Jan. 17.