Beach smoking ban bill clears first testby John Kennedy | February 21st, 2013
An effort to give cities and counties authority to limit smoking at beaches and parks cleared its first legislative test Thursday — earning unanimous approval from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
The measure (SB 258) is similar to one sponsored by Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, who two years ago successfully got lawmakers to give school boards power to enact tougher anti-smoking restrictions than those contained in state law.
Since it was first approved in 1985, the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act has been focused on smoking inside public buildings and workplaces. It also bars local governments from enacting any measures stricter than what is allowed under the state law.
Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said smoking doesn’t have a place on the beach or in public parks. Eliminating it, could save cities and counties cleanup money, she said.
“This will save a lot of money, besides people won’t have smoke blowing in their faces,” Sobel said.
Representatives of local governments, anti-cancer groups, and other health advocates endorsed the Senate measure Thursday. The only caution came from Richard Turner of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, who said his organization is still trying to gauge the proposal’s possible effect on restaurants.
Turner said many of his group’s members spent a lot of money a decade ago to comply with state law after voters extended the smoking ban to restaurants. Although the legislation would only affect publicly-owned facilities, Turner said some cities and counties lease space to restaurants, which could face broader prohibitions.