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News Summary

Snuff out state smoking law

Publication Date: 3/14/2016
  • Author:Editorial
  • Publication:Daytona Beach News-Journal

...In fact, state law specifically prohibits cities and counties from banning smoking in outdoor areas (though school districts are allowed to control smoking on school property). The same goes for the beach, where drifts of spent cigarette butts decorate the dunes...

But the preemption language remained in state law. Each year, lawmakers file bills to allow local control, and each year, they essentially go nowhere -- this year's version didn't get a single hearing in the House or Senate.

The law leaves cities like Port Orange with few options. The city plans to put up signs that "highly discourage" smoking -- the city's park advisory board members seem to favor a "Think of the children" message. Such signs will probably do a lot to encourage compliance; nowadays, most people seem to accept rules that separate cigarette smoking from areas where children congregate. It's telling that nobody came forward to challenge Port Orange's no-smoking signs until city staff uncovered the conflict.

Certainly, cities and counties aren't arguing for the right to go hog-wild with regulation. But local governments should at least have the right to debate whether tougher smoking regulations make sense for a particular area -- say, one of Volusia County's spiffy new beachfront parks, or Flagler County's sports complex at Wadsworth Park.

The preemption law is out of step with modern views of smoking, and violates the principles of local control. Next year, the Legislature should finally get around to repealing it...