It appears that for the first time in roughly five years, recreational smoking in Sarasota County, Florida parks and beaches is legal again...for now.
County attorney Stephen E. DeMarsh told county commissioners on Tuesday that, due to a court decision in December, the parks and beaches smoke ban is not legally valid.
DeMarsh was referring to the decision of Sarasota County Judge Maryann Boehm in which she ruled that the language of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, which was passed in 2003, clearly says that the state Legislature, and not local governments, are the sole entity that can pass smoking bans. Judge Boehm also went on to say in her decision that the Sarasota smoke ban was unenforceable.
Dozens of Florida municipalities aside from Sarasota have passed some form of a parks and beaches smoking ban, and because of this legal loophole, it seems these laws are also most likely unenforceable and therefore legally invalid.
It’s expected that county leaders are going to push lawmakers in the state Legislature to pass an amendment that allows local governments to pass their own smoking laws.
For now, though, it seems park- and beach-goers can legally light up.