A bill in Florida that would have allowed Sarasota County and other local governments to pass their own smoking bans for public spaces like parks and beaches will likely not be passed this year.
According to the the Herald Tribune, HB 439 never made it past the House Quality Subcommittee, and the panel is not scheduled to meet again this year. Therefore public smoking in parks and on beaches will be legal at least until lawmakers address the issue again.
While the Senate companion bill for the House bill, SB 258, made it to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, it appears to be stalled as Florida Senators are turning their attention to other local affairs.
In January, Sarasota County Judge Maryann Boehm found that local smoking bans like the one Sarasota County passed were legally invalid.
"Florida is the foundation of the American cigar experience. With over 200 retail tobacconists, over 45 corporate headquarters, the Port of Miami, cigar support services, distribution channels, and tens of thousands of cigar enthusiasts within the state of Florida, the thought of enforcing outdoor smoking restrictions is simply unacceptable,” said Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America. “CRA is very pleased with the lack of movement to advance SB 258 and HR 439. Although SB 258 got a little further than hoped, we are pleased with the overall lack of definitive action on the bills. Cigar tourism is an important part of the Florida economy, as well. With cigar festivals and special events with a cigar theme from Tampa to Miami, from Key West to Jacksonville, local governments being allowed to regulate smoking could jeopardize this cornerstone of Florida's heritage. This fight isn't going away, so we'll just plan on revisiting this next year."