Few Florida residents know that the state is one of only eight in the nation with an outdated law from 1985 called preemption that only allows the state to decide on matters of smoking leaving cities and counties powerless. While the state passed bans for no smoking in workplaces (1985), restaurants (2001) and on school property (2011), you can light up in other public places such as parks, playgrounds and even on the beach. If Bill SB562 passes, cities and counties can take control of where you can and cannot smoke.
Trying to pass efforts to give local governments control over smoking has been difficult. Between 2011 and 2014 measures have failed four times, due to the strong tobacco industry presence in our state. They are very vocal and throw money towards the fight when it comes to any type of changes in smoking regulations.
One county commissioner understands the need for smoking ban continuity throughout the state. Sarasota County had a five-year ban on smoking at some parks and beaches before the state ruled it was illegal. However, county parks are run, paid for and maintained by the county and not the state, and counties should have more say and control in adopting smoking bans. Currently, counties and cities can pass ordinances asking for smokers to not light up in public areas, but it is not law and has no real power. Even smokers agree it is time to ban smoking in public parks. The bill doesn’t outlaw smoking, just where you can smoke.
If all goes well, and the bill passes, it will take effect on July 1, 2018.