Lawmaker pushing for tougher smoking laws

Feb. 18, 2013 at 2:43 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A Florida lawmaker is pushing a bill that would allow local governments to pass tougher anti-smoking measures.

The measure introduced by state Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, would give cities and counties the power to ban smoking outdoors on public property, The Palm Beach Post reported Sunday. The Senate version is expected to get an airing in a Senate committee Thursday.

"This is a very Republican bill," Hager said. "It's an anti-nanny bill. We don't need big state government being our nanny and telling locals what they need in their communities."

Todd Remmel of the environmental group Surfrider Foundation, likes the idea because it would reduce the amount of litter on beaches.

Beach cleanup volunteers throughout Palm Beach County say they see the evidence of smoking every time they walk the sands.

"Cigarette butts are the number one item we pick up," Remmel said. "Beaches are supposed to be a playground. But people use them as ashtrays."

But smokers aren't pleased.

"To start regulating open-air smoking seems a bit of a backward concept," said Lindsay Heller, assistant manager of Smoke Inn Cigars in West Palm Beach.

"If you ban smoking at parks and beaches, you're going to have pockets of smokers lining up just outside them. You'll be creating a bubble of smoke that people are going to have to walk through."

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