Playground smoking bill easily clears Senate Committee

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Legislation banning smoking in parks near where children play made it effortlessly through a Florida Senate committee on Thursday.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee unanimously backed SB 342, which would authorize local governments to ban smoking on public parkland that have a child’s area containing a minimum of one piece of playground equipment.

Filed by Sen. Rob Bradley, the bill is an extension of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, approved in 2002 by voters to stop smoking in many enclosed indoor workplaces.

“This bill does not create a blanket ban on anything,” Bradley told Jim Turner of the News Service after the meeting. “It just simply gives local government the ability to tailor regulations to meet their needs.”

Although there were no objections raised at the committee meeting, Sen. Nancy Detert said complaints would come.

“Every time we attempted a smoking thing, like we did in the restaurants, the first complaints we get are from our military folks, who say, ‘I fought and died, and got shot in World War II, and I can’t have a cigarette at the VFW,’ ” Detert cautioned. “So be prepared to hear from your veterans.”

Considered membership clubs, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts are exempt from tobacco-free standards levied on restaurants and most bars.

Bradley’s earlier attempt at a broader bill during the 2013 session died in the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The bill to ban smoking on all city or county properties, including beaches, also faced opposition in the House. 

The current “narrowly tailored” bill is a little more realistic, Bradley told the News Service.

“I wanted to try to craft a piece of legislation that has an opportunity for passage,” he said. “I feel good about our prospects in the Senate, but there is still some concerns from our friends in the House.”

Rep. Katie Edwards is sponsoring the House version (HB 309) but is not scheduled yet for a committee.

Miami-Dade County League of Cities, Florida League of Cities, Florida Association of Counties, Sierra Club and the American Lung Association of Florida support the initiative.

First, SB 342 must appear before the Senate Community Affairs and Criminal Justice committees prior to a full Senate vote.

The proposal is not part of a “grand conspiracy” to extend the smoking bans to private outdoor areas across the state, Bradley said.

“I think that it’s appropriate for our children to enjoy playgrounds without having to deal with smoking,” he added. “I’m not interested in banning smoking outdoors on private property.”

If passed, those who refuse to stop smoking after advisement of the restriction and refusing to leave the area could be fined up to $100 for a first offense, with $300 for repeat offenders.

 

 

PLAYGROUND SMOKING BAN SWINGS THROUGH SENATE COMMITTEE via Jim Turner of the News Service Of Florida

A proposal that could snuff out smoking in parks where children play moved easily through its first Senate test on Thursday.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee backed without opposition a measure (SB 342) that would allow local governments to prohibit smoking on public park land that includes children’s areas with at least one piece of playground equipment.

The proposal, by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would be an expansion of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, which was approved by voters in 2002 and prohibits smoking in most enclosed indoor workplaces.

“I wanted to try to craft a piece of legislation that has an opportunity for passage,” Bradley said.. “I feel good about our prospects in the Senate, but there is still some concerns from our friends in the House.”

The House version (HB 309), sponsored by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, has yet to be scheduled to appear before any of its planned committees.

Bradley’s proposal must still go before the Senate Community Affairs and Criminal Justice committees before reaching the full Senate.

Under Bradley’s proposal, a citation could only be issued for those who refuse to stop smoking after being advised of the restriction and refusing to leave the area. The bill limits local ordinances to set fines up to $100 for a first offense and $300 for repeat offenders.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.