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Bill Would Let Fla. Cities and Counties Ban Smoking Outdoors

The state of Florida could allow counties and cities to ban smoking in beaches, parks and other public areas, if a bill passes the Legislature. The measure unanimously passed its first committee stop on Thursday.

Health advocacy groups, the Florida League of Cities, and others support giving local governments the option to keep smoke out of public places. Sen. Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) said, keeping cigarettes off public beaches should cut down on cities’ maintenance costs.

“I believe a lot of costs go into cleaning up our beaches and our parks, especially when people deposit their cigarette butts in the sand, a huge amount of money for beach cleanup," Sobel said.

But the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is concerned outdoor bans could cost restaurant owners even more than they’ve spent on renovations since the state passed its indoor smoking ban in 2002.

S.B. 258 would not enforce a statewide ban but rather give local governments the leeway to create their own.