News and Events

Dixie County Commission Moves Forward with Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance
September 7, 2023

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. the Dixie County Attorney, Chana Watson presented a Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance to the Dixie County Commissions during the County Commissions Regular Meeting. The County Attorney reviewed the ordinance that she submitted. A motion was made by a County Commissioner to advertise in the local paper two weeks prior to a first hearing on the ordinance. The motion was approved by the County Commissioner.

On March 2, 2023, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County Co-Chair had presented to the county commissioners about the need for the Dixie County Commission to adopt a Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Policy in Dixie County.  After listening to the information provided by the Tobacco Free Partnership, County Commissioner Mark Hatch made a motion for the county attorney to review the current tobacco free parks resolution 2017-55 and to revise accordingly for an Ordinance that will cover tobacco free parks and beaches to be re-submitted.

In June 2022, Governor DeSantis signed HB105, the legislation that grants city and county governments the ability to ban smoking at public parks and beaches. This law could potentially impact Florida’s 67 county park systems and more than 400 city park systems.  In the past years, all a county or city could do was pass a Resolution and post signage. Now that the Florida Clean Air Act has been passed, it allows Dixie County and the Town of Cross City to take a major beneficial step to protect their communities by passing an ordinance to make beaches and parks tobacco, smoke and vape free.

A Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance could lead to reducing cigarette waste is an important public health step because cigarettes are not biodegradable, and the plastics and toxic chemicals in cigarettes and their filters can be harmful if they enter the water supply. Reduce the chances of cigarette butts, that are harmful if ingested by children, pets, or marine life from littering the parks and beaches. Children who ingest tobacco products can experience vomiting, nausea, lethargy, and gagging, with e-liquids potentially posing a greater risk of toxicity or fatality through either ingestion or transdermal absorption. In 2018, American poison control centers logged nearly 13,000 cases involving exposure to cigarettes, cigarette butts, vapor-generating electronic devices, or other tobacco products, and of these, more than 10,000 (79.0%) occurred in children aged 5 years and younger. Across the nation, cigarettes are by far the most littered item in the country.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County will continue to work with the Dixie County Commissioners to address any questions or concerns with the ordinance and will also assist with implementation of the ordinance once it has been approved.  The next step in Tobacco Free Parks will be educating the Town of Cross City on the need to adopt a policy to in the two town parks, the Johnny Greene Park – Northwest and the Cross City Community Park. 

This motion is an important step towards a County Ordinance that will protect the youth and wildlife at Dixie County’s ten parks and beaches. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County would like to thank the Dixie County Attorney and the County Commissioners for their support of the youth in Dixie County.