No smoking outside?: Senate panel passes outdoor smoking ban bill
TALLAHASSEE — Cities and counties could bar smokers from beaches, parks and other publicly owned outdoor areas under a proposal that passed an early Senate test Thursday, despite concerns from restaurateurs.
By unanimous vote, the Senate Regulated Industries Committees approved the measure (SB 258), which expands the state’s clear indoor air restrictions to more outdoor venues. Voters approved the Florida Indoor Clean Air Act a decade ago.
The proposal would allow local governments to enact smoke free areas on publicly owned land as long as smoking sections are also available.
A similar bill stalled last year after concerns over smoking on sidewalks. The current version prohibits smoking only on sidewalks in public parks, on public beaches or in recreations areas, continuing to allow smoking on regular street-side sidewalks.
The bill would also allow cities and counties to extend smoke-free zones from public buildings to 75 feet from the entrance, or the same distance from a ventilation system or windows.
Law enforcement officials would be required to first alert violators of the no-smoking restrictions and ask them to leave before they can issue a citation.
“Nobody wants to put anyone in jail for doing these things but it does send a signal,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. “This state wants to be smoke free, eventually…. this is just one incremental step toward getting there.”
It was that last sentence on which I tripped and fell over. What the hell does he mean, “this state wants to be smoke free“? It sounded like the state was a person. And a person who wanted something. And maybe even a person who liked a cheeseburger now and then. With ketchup. Or French mustard.
It would have been different if he’d said, “I want the state to be smoke free.” Or even if he’d said that “Most people want the state to be smoke free.” But he didn’t say that. And so it sounded like all the people had vanished (himself included), and there was just “the state” remaining, and it “wanted to be smoke free.”
And perhaps that’s exactly what he meant? Perhaps, in his way of thinking, “the state” had become a person, and the only person who counted. A bit like (I read once) that companies are also legally “persons.” Maybe states are too, these days? Who knows.
But isn’t the guy a “representative”? Isn’t he supposed to represent the people of Florida? Maybe he doesn’t do that at all? Maybe, maybe he represents…… the state?
Apart from that, the story is another example of the incremental, salami-slice restrictions on smoking. There’s no public health justification for outdoor smoking bans (not that there was any justification for indoor ones either), but they’ll bring them in anyway. And they’ll say that they’re “great success” and that “everyone loves them”. But really they’re just based on the hatred and spite for smokers fostered by Tobacco Control over many decades. And when that happens, I’ll spend even less than I already do. They don’t seem to want my stinking money anyway.
It’s no different in the UK. The Florida story reminded me of something Margo wrote a few days ago about her MP:
Have just received a surprise email from my MP re mine about Plain Packaging. He answered that before, but now writes as if he hadn’t answered it (starting with ‘sorry for the delay’). Complete turnabout – he’s now sounding as if he’s in favour, citing the “evidence” that it will deter the young from taking up smoking.
None of these people seem to represent their constituents any more. They don’t even show any signs of wanting to represent them. Not here in the UK, nor in the USA, nor anywhere else. I sometimes wonder whether all these politicians have drunk some sort of kool-aid that’s made them into zombies.
Personally I’m terminally disenchanted with the entire UK political establishment (Nigel Farage excepted), and I’m well past the point where I’ll vote for Absolutely Anybody Else. And it seems they have the same disenchantment in Italy:
Beppe Grillo’s 5 Star movement is not a political party and is not meant to fit into the niche Elitist club of Italian Politics. Started by the readers of his blog in despair at the endless corruption, power mongering and downright Mafia tactics that prevail, his movement is making only one demand. It will not form a coalition with any other party and actually does not want any power. Grillo himself has declared that the support for his movement, 25% of the vote, is a war of generations, fed up with chaos that the last 25 years of greedy, vain and corrupt politics has spawned.
Could it happen here? We have certainly seen the rise of new political movements, nourished through the freedom of information that can flow through the internet instantly – we have seen how everyone with a smartphone has a voice via Facebook, twitter and internet forums but is it really enough to put a dent in the hallowed Hogwartesque regime of the Glorious 650 MPs at Parliament? Yes – it is. Whilst our politicians squabble over who touched whose knee, millions of us are fed up.
“Fed up” puts it far too mildly. I’m hopping mad. And this isn’t just “mid-term blues” or something. It’s terminal. I can’t be won back. I’m never going to vote for any of these fuckers again. Not the ones in the big parties that betrayed 25% of the electorate – the 25% who were smokers.
Look, I voted Lib Dem for 25 years, automatic as clockwork. Yes, I know I’m stupid. And now I utterly hate the bastards. And there seem to be lots of people in the USA – Tea Party members – who feel the same way, except about a different bunch of reptiles – like this Thrasher joker in Florida -. And there’s Beppe Grillo. And there’s more popping up all over the place.
It’s a new experience for me, to feel this way. And it’s a new experience for me to see so many other people feeling equally disenchanted. And it seems to presage some sort of political tidal wave, in which the entire ‘professional’ political class – the kind of people who appear year after year on TV talk shows and current affairs programmes – simply get completely swept away. And are never ever seen again. Ever.
I’m beginning to think that it will actually happen.