(AL.com) — Gulf Shores has Alabama’s most popular half-mile stretch of public beachfront, with sugar-white sandy beaches luring families and tourists year-round.
The beachfront is also undergoing $15 million in renovations and city officials want to keep it looking nice. In June, city officials adopted a new wide-ranging list of regulations that included an Alabama first: The public beachfront became smoke free.
The ban is part of a national trend. From the beachfronts of New Jersey to Florida, politicians are looking to snuff out the butts in an effort to lure in tourists and keep these popular tourist attractions from looking like ashtrays.
In New Jersey, a new law goes into effect on January 16 banning any kind of tobacco use on beaches or boardwalks and offenders can be fined up to $1,000. Florida’s legislation doesn’t carry the stiff penalties, but it does implement a wide-ranging ban on smoking at any public beach.
“What Florida is doing is not surprising,” said Grant Brown, recreation and cultural affairs director with the city of Gulf Shores, comparing smoking bans on beaches with restrictions to smoking at outdoor athletic stadiums.
“It’s similar … where people are not being allowed to smoke inside the stadiums,” said Brown. “It affects (a spectators) opportunity to enjoy themselves. It’s similar to that at a public beach.”