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Cigars and pipes will still be permitted at Florida’s beaches and parks

cigars lined up on a counter
Carl Lisciandrello
/
WUSF Public Media
A Senate panel approved a bill that would allow local governments to restrict smoking at beaches and public parks, but puffing cigars and pipes would still be allowed.

Sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the change was made because “cigars and pipe smoking is such a small portion” of the problem.

A Senate panel Monday approved a bill that would allow local governments to restrict smoking at beaches and public parks, but puffing cigars and pipes would still be allowed.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee advanced the proposal (SB 224), after a change was made to exempt cigars and pipes from any local restrictions.

Sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the change was made because “cigars and pipe smoking is such a small portion” of the problem.

“It's the filters, those plastic filters within the cigarettes that cause the environmental pollution as they make their way into the waterways,” Gruters said. “I always said that's the most disappointing thing about the beach is the fact that, not only having the secondhand smoke hit you if you have your family next door and not being able to do anything about it, but really the kids and everybody playing in the sand and pulling up the cigarette butts over and over again.”

The change drew opposition from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Florida Conservation Voters, the American Lung Association and Sierra Club Florida.

Under current law, the state controls regulation of smoking throughout Florida.

The bill would allow cities and counties to regulate it at beaches and parks that they own.

The Senate amendment exempted smoking cigars that do not contain filters or plastic tips and smoking pipe tobacco.

The proposal must clear the Senate Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate.

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

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