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Florida Senate Ready To Weigh Local Smoking Restrictions

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - A measure that would allow local governments to restrict smoking at beaches and public parks is headed to the Florida Senate floor, though signs would have to be posted to let people know they could smoke cigars or pipes.

The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday approved the bill (SB 224), which sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said would help reduce litter from cigarette filters and plastic tips.

The vote came after the committee attached an amendment regarding signs.

The state has long controlled smoking regulations, but the bill would allow cities and counties to prevent smoking at beaches and parks that they own.

The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee last week exempted smoking cigars that do not contain filters or plastic tips and pipe tobacco.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who voted against the bill Tuesday, said the proposal would result in local areas with "wild and crazy different levels of enforcement" and signs that would confuse people.

"If you wanted to say, you can't smoke around the playgrounds at parks, great. I think that's reasonable and perfectly fine for the state to let cities have that level of flexibility," Brandes said.

"But if you wanted to say the entirety of the beach of this city is non-smoking, that seems to go a little bit beyond the pale of freedom in my book."

A similar House measure (HB 105), which does not include the cigar and pipe tobacco exemption, has cleared two panels and awaits an appearance before the Health & Human Services Committee.

(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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