Playground Smoking Ban Swings Through Senate Committee

January 20, 2014

A proposal that could snuff out smoking in parks where children play moved easily through its first Senate test .

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee backed without opposition a measure (SB 342) that would allow local governments to prohibit smoking on public park land that includes children’s areas with at least one piece of playground equipment.

The proposal, by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would be an expansion of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, which was approved by voters in 2002 and prohibits smoking in most enclosed indoor workplaces.

“This bill does not create a blanket ban on anything,” Bradley said after the meeting. “It just simply gives local government the ability to tailor regulations to meet their needs.”

No announced opposition stepped forward during the committee meeting. However, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, cautioned that complaints will come.

“Every time we attempted a smoking thing, like we did in the restaurants, the first complaints we get are from our military folks, who say, ‘I fought and died, and got shot in World War II, and I can’t have a cigarette at the VFW,’ ” Detert warned. “So be prepared to hear from your veterans.”

Veterans of Foreign Wars posts are considered membership clubs, which under state law are exempt from the tobacco-free standards imposed on restaurants and most bars.

Bradley tried to pass a broader bill (SB 258) during the 2013 legislative session that was intended to restrict smoking on all municipal or county properties, including beaches. The measure, which died in the Senate Community Affairs Committee, also faced opposition in the House before its demise.

Bradley said this year’s “narrowly tailored” bill is more realistic.

“I wanted to try to craft a piece of legislation that has an opportunity for passage,” Bradley said.. “I feel good about our prospects in the Senate, but there is still some concerns from our friends in the House.”

The House version (HB 309), sponsored by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, has yet to be scheduled to appear before any of its planned committees.

The proposal has the support of the Miami-Dade County League of Cities, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association of Florida.

Bradley’s proposal must still go before the Senate Community Affairs and Criminal Justice committees before reaching the full Senate.

Across the nation, numerous municipalities and cities already ban smoking at government parks, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque, N.M. Pequannock, New Jersey has banned smoking at public parks with ball fields or playgrounds.

Bradley defended his proposal as not being part of a “grand conspiracy” to further expand the ban on smoking to private outdoor areas across the state.

“I think that it’s appropriate for our children to enjoy playgrounds without having to deal with smoking,” Bradley said. “I’m not interested in banning smoking outdoors on private property.”

Under Bradley’s proposal, a citation could only be issued for those who refuse to stop smoking after being advised of the restriction and refusing to leave the area. The bill limits local ordinances to set fines up to $100 for a first offense and $300 for repeat offenders.

Pictured: Showalter Park in Century. file photos.

by The News Service of Florida


5 Responses to “Playground Smoking Ban Swings Through Senate Committee”

  1. TK on January 23rd, 2014 7:47 pm

    Any excuse to ban smoking will do. Now it’s “for the children” I want to know if Mike J is okay with fining a smoker up to $100 for the first offense just because he doesn’t like it? We are getting so intolerant!

  2. Darth Soetoro on January 21st, 2014 8:58 am

    @Robert S.: Read the article again. It was not Sen.Rob Bradley-R who said something about veterans. “Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, cautioned that complaints will come.” and following that is the quote from that senator.

    Welcome to the Dark Side!

  3. Mike J. on January 21st, 2014 8:53 am

    While I certainly agree that LEO should focus on criminals and drunk drivers (as well as other things), I DO NOT like it when I bring my kids to the park and smell/see smoking within the park and next to the playground equipment. It makes me angry knowing that when my kids pass by the smoker they are also breathing that smoke. Keeping smoking away from kids should be an easy thing for EVERYBODY to agree on. I’m sure that the smokers can control themselves for a few minutes at the park when children are present. At least I hope that adult smokers can be mature and responsible. Give them a chance to be.

  4. Betty H on January 20th, 2014 5:14 pm

    I can find better ways for cops to spend their time than issuing smoker tickets in a playground. Plus it’s outside in the open air..How much can it really hurt…I would rather cops look for drunk drivers than playground smokers.

  5. Robert S. on January 20th, 2014 8:34 am

    Agree with no smoking area if kids are around.
    Of course some of the kids may be the ones smokin’ at the playground.
    Who is going to enforce this and issue citations?
    Must the LEO now have a playground police force?

    Mostly, what is up with this Rob Bradley’s complaint with Veteran’s?
    I am offended that he chooses to openly and seemingly without reservation discriminate against those who have put their lives on the line so he can “represent” all citizens in his district.

    Of course, his statement above, “I wanted to try to craft a piece of legislation that has an opportunity for passage,” sounds like his major goal is to have the accolade of passing anything. Maybe that is his goal for proving he is working for the people.

    Wonder if he ever served in this nation’s military?

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