News and Events

Martin County Board of County Commissioners Explores Options for Reducing Tobacco Litter in Local Parks and Beaches
February 25, 2014

At the Martin County Board of County Commissioners meeting on February 25, 2104, a special agenda item was presented by the Parks and Recreation Director, Kevin Abbate, recommending steps to move forward with a tobacco-free parks and beaches policy in Martin County.

Martin BOCC

Because of Preemption in the state of Florida, local counties are prohibited from creating their own legislation restricting smoking at parks and beaches.  State Legislators have been working over the past few years to overturn Preemption and give back the power to local governments to determine tobacco restrictions in their own communities.  However, since these efforts have yet to pass into law, many communities in the state of Florida have decided to take the necessary steps to protect their communities from secondhand smoke exposure and tobacco litter.

In Martin County, tobacco related trash accounts for up to 47% of all the trash collected at beach cleanups.  Additionally, use of tobacco products at recreational parks and playgrounds contributes to children’s perception of tobacco use as a normal activity, combating efforts to decrease the social norm of tobacco use in Martin County by the Tobacco Free Partnership.

The Town of Sewall’s Point decided to pass a law banning tobacco from their parks and beaches, adding the disclosure to their signage “except where prohibited by Preemption.”

The recommendations made at the meeting included:

  1. Direct staff to prepare and advertise a draft ordinance that reflects any change in the language in the FCIAA related to preemption of smoking to the State in favor of local government regulation.
  2. Adopt a new resolution urging the State Legislature to repeal the state preemption in the area of regulating tobacco smoke use.   
  3. Direct staff to prepare and advertise a draft ordinance creating a Countywide Litter Ordinance that collaborates with the Martin County Sherriff Office.  The Countywide Litter Ordinance would enhance the “Florida Litter Law” under Florida Statute 403.413 and include the following elements; enforcement measures by County and Sherriff employees and citation for violation recommendations.    
  4. Allow staff to proceed with an “Adopt a Park/Beach” program that provides for litter improvement throughout the County”. Bring the proposed program back to the MCBOCC for final approval.

Martin BOCC Presentation
Kevin Abbate (Martin County Parks and Recreation Director) and Dr. Barry Hummel (Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation) present before the Martin County Board of County Commissioners.

Dr. Barry Hummel from the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation presented on the importance of reducing youth exposure to tobacco use and the risk of secondhand smoke exposure. 

Ally Diaz (SWAT Club President at Martin County High School), Daniel Knight (SWAT Club President at Jensen Beach High School), and Jennifer Bishop, (SWAT Club Advisor at Jensen Beach High School), all spoke in support of the recommendations.  They were joined by leaders from the Hutchinson Island Home Owners Association, United Way of Martin County, Martin Health Systems, American Cancer Society, Keep Martin Beautiful, and other concerned citizens.  No opposition was present.

Martin BOCC - Knight
Daniel Knight (Jensen Beach High School SWAT President) shares the results of a recent beach cleanup .

The recommendations were passed unanimously.  Additionally, Commissioner Smith requested that staff form a coalition with the surrounding counties looking to pass similar restrictions, in order to more effectively work together to make a positive impact on tobacco litter and youth engagement in Martin County.