Broward Cities Should Ban Smoking on Beaches, Cleanup Organizer Says

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A Fort Lauderdale man says Broward's coastal cities should ban smoking on public beaches. 

Bobby Lieberman says that he has spoken to numerous city officials in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Beach in an effort to get smoking banned — and when he does, he brings along a clear, coffin-shaped container filled with thousands of cigarette butts that volunteers collected at the monthly Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep, which he helps organize. Lieberman says the “wonderful aroma” enforces his message.

“People want the beach to be pristine and they can help keep it that way. Banning smoking - it’s just evolution,”says Lieberman. The former New Yorker and retired toy company executive is closely involved with the local board of Tobacco Free Florida.

To make beaches smoke-free, commissions would have to pass ordinances banning smoking, which at least 50 municipalities have done in the Sunshine State. Various Broward cities already ban dogs, nudity, open fires, liquor and glass containers by the shore.

Of the elected officials he's spoken to, “several people are gung-ho," Lieberman explains, "but several also feel that [banning] smoking [negatively] influences our foreign visitors." 

Lieberman says leaders should look to cities like Sarasota, which has mounted stainless steel ashtrays at beach entrances stating the beach is a smoke-free area.

A self-described beach bum with a special love for Harbor Beach, Leiberman jokingly describes himself as embodying the aura of the entire cast of the 1960s TV show Gilligan’s Island — Gilligan, the Professor, Mary Ann, Ginger and the natives. He organized a beach sweep for ten years in Hollywood before starting the one in Fort Lauderdale. At the Beach Sweep, volunteers wear t-shirts emblazoned with the name of Lieberman’s life- and executive-coaching company, “It’s a Shore Thing.”

“For every cigarette butt volunteers pick up, they are saving the life of a fish, bird or turtle,” says Leiberman. His sweeps draw up to 250 people. They take place on the second Saturday of each month from 7 to 11 a.m.

Each month, volunteers spread out in groups armed with three buckets. Two are for litter and one is exclusively for cigarette butts. Lieberman says 32 percent of beach litter is comprised of cigarette butts, many of which wash ashore from boats and cruise ships.

The next Fort Lauderdale Beach Sweep is Saturday, June 11, at 300 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., at the intersection of E. Las Olas Boulevard and A1A North. For more information, contact Bobby Lieberman at 954-593-8501.

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