On June 2, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott approved SB1430 authorizing school districts to restrict smoking on school district property and preempting the regulation of smoking to the state, superseding any municipal or county ordinance on smoking. This is a great step forward in banning all smoking on school property; however, it would have been better if the state took the lead and restricted smoking on school district property across Florida. The state essentially dumped the issue into the laps of the school boards.
A Google search of Section 386.209 Florida Statues provides the text of the FL Senate Bill. It should be noted that under Section 1, Subsection (1) of section 386.212 it is amended to read “It is unlawful for any person under 18 years of age to smoke tobacco in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary, middle, or secondary school between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight.” I thought it was against the law to sell tobacco to a minor under the age of 18. If it is against the law to sell tobacco to those under the age of 18, why aren’t those in violation of the law cited as minors in procession? Is it illegal for them to buy tobacco but legal for them to possess it and consume it? And why it is only between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight? Is it legal for them to possess it during the other hours? Is it legal for those under 18 to smoke tobacco on school property between midnight and 6 a.m.? This is clearly a loophole in the law.
That same paragraph continues that “A district school board may adopt rules prohibiting any person from smoking tobacco on or in any other district-owned or district-leased facility or property…”. The opportune word is MAY. The first part “…authorizes a district school board…” and the second part says “a district school board may adopt rules…” This bill is sounding like a parent in need of parenting skills. Either you authorize the districts to adopt rules or you don’t.
Smoking is bad. It is bad for your health. It is bad for those who breath in secondhand smoke. It is bad for children of all ages to see adults smoking, especially on school grounds, because they get the message that smoking is acceptable. This bill is better then nothing, but what is Florida trying to say to its school children? Who wrote this bill, Florida or big tobacco?
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