Anti-smoking advocates are up in arms at the state Capitol. They are willing to let a ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors fail because the legislation also kills 28 city and 28 county local ordinances on tobacco.
The state already regulates where you can smoke and where you can’t; but for more than 20 years, local governments have been able to restrict where and how you buy tobacco.
Local governments have banned everything from these chocolate-flavored cigars, to the placement of e-cigarettes, to outlawing self-service vending machines.
Legislation at the state Capitol aimed at banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors has been clearing committees, but one version also wipes out local ordinances. Anti- Smoking Advocates say they’d rather lose the statewide ban on e-cigarettes than the local control.
Brenda Olsen is with the Florida Lung Association. "This bill would essentially strip all the good work and ordinances that have been done by our local cities and our counties."
An amendment to kill the local ordinances, called preemption, was added by a House Committee. The advocates, including Kahreem Golden, and FSU student, say it's the work of Big Tobacco, even staging a stunt calling the move smoke and mirrors. "E-cigarettes are not about helping people quit smoking. They are a marketing tool for addicting another generation of tobacco users."
John Fleming of the Florida Retail Federation says retailers, who support the statewide legislation are dumbfounded by the opposition. "I don't understand the concept of having the statewide ban die. What we want to do is statewide, treat these the same as cigarettes are treated. Keep them from getting into the hands of underage persons"
Fourteen working days remain in the legislation session. If the standoff over a statewide preemption continues, the anti-smoking advocates are likely to get their wish, which is nothing.
The ban on E Cigarette sales to minors has already cleared the full Senate without the language stripping local governments ability to enact rules on tobacco sales. If the pre- emption stays in the House version, it will be up to the Senate to decide whether to accept it.