Air pipes

Florida beaches and parks allow cigars and pipes

A Senate panel on Monday approved a bill that would allow local governments to restrict smoking on beaches and public parks, but cigars and pipes would still be allowed.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee advanced the proposal (SB 224), after a change was made to exempt cigars and pipes from any local restrictions.

Sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the change was made because “cigars and pipe are such a small part” of the problem.

“It’s the filters, those plastic filters in cigarettes that cause environmental pollution as they make their way into waterways,” Gruters said. “I’ve always said the most disappointing thing about the beach is the fact that not only does the secondhand smoke hit you if you have your family around and there’s nothing you can do about it, but really the kids and everyone playing in the sand and snipping cigarette butts over and over again.

The change drew opposition from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Florida Conservation Voters, American Lung Association and Sierra Club Florida.

Under current law, the state controls smoking regulations throughout Florida.

The bill would allow cities and counties to regulate it on the beaches and parks they own.

The Senate amendment exempted smoking cigars that do not contain filters or plastic mouthpieces and smoking pipe tobacco.

The proposal must be approved by the Senate Rules Committee before it can be submitted to the full Senate.

A similar House measure (HB 105), which does not include the exemption, authorized two committees and awaits an appearance before the Health and Human Services Committee.