Sound Off: Smokers might be killing themselves but rights are rights, many readers say
Jan 24, 2014
There’s a move afoot to make college campuses, business locations and other grounds totally smoke free — in other words, no smoking is allowed anywhere on the property. We asked members of the Times-U nion Email Interactive Group if they agree with the concept and what rights they think smokers and non-smokers should have. Here is a representative sampling of the responses:
In addition to smoke free campuses and workplaces, there is also proposed legislation to prevent one from smoking in a car if children are present. I am a non-smoker, so I appreciate not having to sit in a cloud of smoke in conference rooms, at restaurants and in airplanes. But, as we move forward, we need to think about the viability of enforcement. We should not be enacting more rules, regulations, or laws that we cannot or are not willing to enforce.
Judith Solano, Jacksonville
I am not a smoker, but I believe that a designated smoking area should be allotted for buildings designated non-smoking. It is not fair to discriminate against people’s choices, good, bad or otherwise. Not allowing them to smoke in certain area is not going to make them stop, but perhaps sneak around in areas they shouldn’t be in to begin with.
Jean Bowen, Westside
As a NON-smoker, I still have to stand firmly opposed to this movement. This is just another example of our Big Brother going too far. I get the whole “it’s a private institution” thing and all, but I think there should be designated areas where those who do smoke can still partake in their habit. … It’s a wonder us older folks ever survived growing up without seat belts and bike helmets. Give smokers a designated area and let them enjoy. Heck, even the Jaguars stadium still allows smoking in designated areas.
L. Wayne Moore, Orange Park
Lawmakers want a playground smoking ban
By James Call
Smoking is banned in many places in Florida but not in and around playgrounds. That’s an irony created by the 2002 constitutional amendment that created the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act which expressly preempted regulation of smoking to the state — forbidding city and county governments from enforcing local ordinances. Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, want to change that.
The two lawmakers have filed identical bills, HB 309 and SB 342, to allow cities and counties to restrict smoking on publicly owned land, such as playgrounds and beaches, and authorize law enforcement to issue citations. At least 22 cities and counties have laws in place banning smoking at parks, playgrounds and other municipally owned lands. A bill similar to the Bradley-Edwards’ proposal enabling enforcement of the ordinances died during this year’s legislative session.
“When I take my kids to a public park or playground, I would like to do so without there being cigarette butts and smoking occurring in the park or playground,” Bradley said this p ast month when he filed the bill.
Bradley said the proposal would accomplish two things: protect the health of children and solve a littering problem created when smokers flick cigarette butts on the ground. Smoking advocacy groups have challenged both assumptions when fighting similar proposals in other states.
The Smokers Club’s website compares smoking bans and restrictions to a social engineering effort that infringes on civil liberties with the ultimate goal to eliminate smoking rights completely. When it engaged in debates on playground and beach smoking bans in California and Virginia the group pointed to numerous studies that it says found no link between outdoor exposure to second-hand smoke and illness. The club also has suggested that enforcing littering laws will resolve Bradley’s problem with butts.
“There are limits on the exercise of political power. Under our constitutional system, a nonsmoking majority cannot arbitrarily stamp out the rights of a smoking minority,” Robert Levy of the Cato Institute argued in a commentary posted on the Smokers Club website. “For a regulation to be legitimate there must be a good fit between the regulation and the goal it seeks to accomplish.”
Levy concluded smoking bans on public property fail to clear such a hurdle.
The Bradley-Edwards proposal authorizes local governments to restrict smoking on certain properties, provides limitations on such restrictions, outlines when a citation can be issue for violating the restriction and defines the term “playground.”
The Senate bill has been referred to the Regulated Industries, Community Affairs and Criminal Justice committees. The House bill has yet to be referred to a committee.
Related Research: The Smoker’s Club website.
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