House bill on beach smoking will only impact cigarettes, filtered cigars

cigarette beach
Similar legislation has never been this close to passing both chambers of the Legislature.

A House bill allowing counties and cities to regulate cigarette smoking won’t impact those who want to vape or smoke cigars.

Representatives on Tuesday changed a bill (HB 105) aiming to restore local governments’ ability to regulate smoking on public lands. An amendment passed without objection would make clear that unfiltered cigars still cannot be regulated by anyone but the state government, and will remain legal.

“This change is being made to bring it in line with the Senate,” said Rep. Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican.

While the House typically proves more reticent to regulation, the Senate this year has taken a more conservative approach as far as what smoke it snuffs out.

Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, agreed in a committee stop to limit the power to regulate to filtered tobacco products in the Senate companion bill (SB 224). That’s because the greatest concern addressed by the legislation relates to cigarette butts left as litter. The plastic filters from cigarettes consistently rank as the top trash cleaned up from Florida beaches.

Plastic-tipped cigars, which also leave a non-biodegradable byproduct, can still be banned from beaches under both the House and Senate regulation.

Another amendment passed by the House nixes a provision only considered in the lower chamber. The legislation previously would allow a prohibition of smoking within 25 feet of most businesses’ entryways. But that’s no longer contained in the bill either.

Notably, there are now portions of the Senate bill that don’t appear in the House legislation, such as a requirement for counties prohibiting smoking to post signage informing visitors of exceptions to the rule.

Fine carried the House bill with Rep. Thad Altman, an Indialantic Republican.

“This will mostly help children and provide smoke-free zones in our parks and our beaches,” Altman pitched at a committee stop last week.

The issue is one that has been raised and died several years in a row in the Legislature. While the current version only allows cities and counties to ban filtered tobacco products, this is the first year legislation has appeared poised to pass in both chambers.

The House will vote on the bill on the floor this Thursday.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Matthew Lusk

    February 23, 2022 at 7:47 am

    The cigarette butt doesn’t make people litter anymore than a gun makes people murder. Joe gruenters in a bathing suit is probably more offensive than a cigarette butt in the sand.

  • Noritz

    February 23, 2022 at 11:52 am

    I support this project! I remember from childhood that the beaches were filled with garbage and cigarette butts, and now my child asks me what is this strange thing in the sand. I hope this law will find support and dissemination throughout America.

  • Jim

    February 23, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    What about crack? Can I smoke crack on the beach? Freedom!!!!

  • Matthew Lusk

    February 23, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    I’d much rather see a curb on dog doo doo and dog urine in the sand. Human pee and piss also. I was at the beach last year, 25 yards into the surf, and a woman stopped on the beach in front of me, pulled her swimsuit aside and gushed out Niagara Falls.

Comments are closed.


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