Video: Orlando News 13

“Shells and sand aren’t the only things you’ll see on Florida’s beaches — cigarette butts are also a common sight.

According to a 2021 report from Ocean Conservancy and International Coastal Cleanup, cigarettes were the number one trash item found at beaches in 2020, with 964,521 recorded. Plastic bottles followed with 627,014 recorded and 573,534 food wrappers found.

It’s an issue fourth-grader Robert Dhingra wanted to do something about. Dhingra, who lives in Cocoa Beach, said he really began noticing all the cigarette butts back in January, which bothered him, especially because he didn’t see places for people to dispose of them safely.

‘There should be receptacle cans for cigarettes too because if you put them in the regular trash cans, the trash could catch fire,’ Dhingra said.

He and his mom, Mina Sharma, started going out once a week on the beach near their apartment and picking up butts for an hour or more at a time.

But when he kept noticing them, Dhingra decided just cleanup wasn’t enough. He wanted to call attention to the issue. So, the then third-grade student penned an op-ed for a local newspaper…

He also created a presentation, which he showcased at his elementary school for the teachers and students.

During the 2022 legislative session, Republican State Sen. Joe Gruter introduced a bill that would allow counties and municipalities to establish bans on smoking in both state parks and on public beaches, which was signed into law and will go into effect on July 1.”

— By Will Robinson-Smith Brevard County, Orlando News 13

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Citizens for a Scenic Florida