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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida Senate panel backs a ban on smoking and vaping in state parks

 Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral
Robert Hunter
Florida House of Representatives
State Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez expressed concerns over hazardous substances associated with cigarette butts.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee backed the measure filed by Chair Ana Maria Rodriguez that would lead to $100 for the first violation and jump to $500 for subsequent offenses.

A Senate panel Wednesday approved a proposal that would ban smoking and vaping in state parks.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee backed a measure (SB 1576), filed by Chair Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, that would lead to fines for smoking and vaping in state parks.

Fines would start at $100 for the first violation and jump to $500 for each subsequent offense.

“Cigarette butts contain hazardous substances and contain plastic filters that are made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that can take up to a decade to decompose,” Rodriguez said. “Studies have shown these filters are toxic to children, marine life and animals when ingested.”

The state park system mostly follows the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, which bars smoking inside buildings. The exception is Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where smoking is prohibited. The park is deemed a “congested area” because of its layout and large number of visitors.

While he supported the bill, Sen. Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, suggested including an exemption for areas where people stay overnight.

“I know a lot of state parks do allow for camping and RVs, enclosed containers where individuals might pay 30 bucks a night to stay there. Perhaps there could be a carve-out for that,” Martin said.

The bill next goes to the Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government.

A similar House bill (HB 495) has not been heard in committees.

In 2022, lawmakers passed a measure that allows cities and counties to restrict smoking at beaches and parks that they own.

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