Lawmakers push for scaled-back version of smoking ban

By Jason Lanning, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

A smoking ban on playgrounds could soon be left in the hands of local governments.

New bills moving through the Florida House and Senate are aiming to give local government powers in deciding whether smoking will be allowed on public properties.

A similar effort last year failed to pass the legislature after critics argued banning smoking on beaches, parks and public facilities could hurt bar and restaurant business, as well as tourism.

Lawmakers have resorted to a scaled-back effort to allow cities and counties to impose smoking bans on public property.

At Palma Ceia Park in Tampa, parents say they support the new legislation that would stop people from smoking at public parks.

"Because of the kids, they really don't have a choice," Barbi Winn said. "They can't say they want you to smoke or they don't want you to smoke around them."

However, others at Palma Ceia Park say any restriction of personal rights on public property is a government overreach.

"It's just another bill they are trying to pass to take away my freedom, everyone's freedom," said Judd Wheeler.

Some say the new smoking ban legislation will be a tough sell in Florida.