Here we go again with the never ending senseless stripping of our rights. There are many ridiculous laws regarding smoking. Outdoor smoking bans, especially in wide open spaces is obviously one of the most ludicrous.
Kathleen C. Passidomo, a state representative from Naples, has introduced House Bill 211, which would amend the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act. A companion bill has also been introduced in the State Senate by Alan Hayes. Part of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act is a preemption by the state in the area of smoking regulation. What this means is that unlike California, where municipalities can pass anti-smoking regulations that are stricter than the state statute, local governments in Florida cannot pass their own local anti-smoking regulations.
The proposed bills would change the language in the preemption section from "this part expressly preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject" to "this part expressly preempts regulation of indoor smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject." Adding "indoor" makes a vast difference because it would allow local municipalities the unregulated right to enact legislation that bans smoking in outdoor areas such as sidewalks, beaches, and public parks.
If passed, the proposed bill would be effective July 1, 2011.
Personally, I live in downtown St. Petersburg, FL, and I walk almost everywhere, every day. I enjoy walking around while smoking my pipe, and there are many nice parks and benches. It’s unfathomable to me that doing what I normally do could possibly soon be against the law.
Florida smokers should take note and work toward stopping passage of this bill, or they may find the number of places they are allowed to smoke significantly reduced. Unlike many places, Florida has struck somewhat of a balance between the "rights" of non-smokers to be free of secondhand smoke and the rights of smokers to be able to go out and enjoy a cigar in public.
If either of these bills are allowed to pass, that balance will suddenly end. Florida smokers should to visit the Cigar Rights petition page and take the steps listed to help prevent the bill’s passage and protect their right to smoke in outdoor places around the state.