Florida House Members Vote in Favor of Banning Smoking From State’s Beaches and Parks

Toby Hazlewood

Unfiltered cigars won't be banned though

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On February 24, Florida's house members voted in favor of approving a ban of smoking from the state's beaches and parks. The vote was almost unanimous - 105-10 - when politicians considered HB 105 - Regulation of Smoking by Counties and Municipalities.

The bill has been co-sponsored by Rep. Thad Altman, a Republican. It builds on a 2002 constitutional amendment that prohibited smoking in restaurants and at other indoor workplaces. Speaking on the bill, Rep. Altman had this to say:

“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. There was no way of enforcing that.” -Rep. Thad Altman

Will the bill really make it?

While many will be in favor of a bill that promotes public health - both smokers and non-smokers alike - there's a fear that the bill may yet be rejected. Similar bills have been considered by the state's legislature before.

As recently as April 2021, sponsors of the equivalent bill - HB-239 - acknowledged that it was effectively dead in the water after being defeated in a series of votes in the House.

A similar bill was also proposed and considered, and ultimately rejected in the 2019 legislative season.

Smoking remains an issue in the USA

The CDC estimated that as of 2019, around 14% (or 31.4 million) Americans still classified themselves as smokers. Cigarette smoking kills around 480,000 Americans each year and men are more likely than women to smoke (15.3% of males compared to 12.7% of women).

Perhaps more relevant to Florida, is that the southern census region has the second highest rate of smokers in the U.S. at 15.4% of the population. This could help explain why it's been hard for the state to get the ban on smoking on beaches approved and in place.

It will be interesting to see if this bill makes it into law in 2022 and if so, what the public reaction actually is.

Are you in favor of banning smoking in parks and on beaches or do you think it's down to the individual to choose what they do? Let me know in the comments section below.

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