The Florida House on Thursday, Feb. 24, overwhelmingly approved a proposal that would allow cities and counties to ban cigarette smoking at beaches and parks. House members voted 105-10 to pass the measure (HB 105), while a similar proposal is pending in the Senate.
The House bill would allow cities and counties to impose smoking restrictions at public beaches and parks that they own, though they would not be able to ban unfiltered cigars. Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican who has co-sponsored the bill, said it builds on a 2002 constitutional amendment that prohibited smoking in restaurants and at other indoor workplaces.
“What we found is that at a lot of our public parks or beaches, you'd go to a Little League game, you'd see smoke going into the dugout around the kids,” Altman said. “There was no way of enforcing that.” Under current law, the state controls regulation of smoking throughout Florida. The Senate version (SB 224) would provide exemptions for cigars that do not contain filters or plastic tips and pipe tobacco.