Florida State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, is renewing his fight to allow local municipalities decide whether they want to ban smoking on their beaches, as this week he introduced SB 334 for the upcoming legislative session.
Currently, Florida state law says that only the state can ban smoking at beaches. Gruters’ bill would change that language and would authorize counties and municipalities to further restrict smoking within the boundaries of public beaches and public parks. It would also prohibit smoking within all state parks.
The matter has come up in recent years, as in 2017, a Sarasota County smoking ban for beaches was deemed to be unconstitutional due to the 2003 state laws regarding smoking in restaurants, workplaces and other indoor areas. In that law, it was written that only the state can make laws regarding smoking.
Gruters tried to pass a similar bill in the 2019 session, and while it was sent to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, it never received a vote and was indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration.
If passed, the changes would go into effect on July 1, 2021.
The Florida Legislature’s 2021 session convenes on March 2, 2021.