Senate moving on smoking ban bill

Published On: Mar 07 2013 04:26:21 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A state bill to ban smoking in parks and at beaches is moving early in session. It's just the third day of the 2013 legislative session, and already the ban has passed two Senate committees.

It's already banned in restaurants and on planes. The space where people can legally smoke is shrinking.

A Senate health committee passed a bill Thursday allowing local governments to ban smoking at parks and beaches.

"I think it’s important that people have a choice and voice in whether their kids are around smokers or not,” said Sen. Aaron Bean.

Some park-goers say they agree.

"I know, just like I wouldn't want to go to a restaurant and be around secondhand smoke, I wouldn't want to necessarily want it at a park," said Tykena Buckner.

Litter is another reason senators are quickly moving the bill through the legislative process. Cigarette butts are dirty and are easily found at almost every park and beach in the state.

"There are hundreds of cigarette butts buried in the sand," said Sen. Eleanor Sobel.

The bill has bi-partisan support gaining votes from Democrats and Republicans at every committee stops.

"I think this helps our cities, helps our counties and it's a good bill, and I think we should let our local governments decide if they want to pick up this law now," said Sobel.

"I've heard that from constituents and others who say, 'Hey, why do I have to be at a park where there are kids involved and have to stand next to somebody who is smoking,'" said Bean. "This gives the cities local control. If that's a city park it lets cities set the parameter."

As the bill moves through the process, state lawmakers are considering changes to make sure restaurants with outdoor smoking areas aren't negatively impacted.

The bill has one more committee stop before it's ready for a vote on the Senate floor.

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