POLL: Naples mayor plans to get county legislative delegation involved with smoking ban

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— A discussion about whether to ban smoking on Naples beaches could be heading to the state Legislature.

Naples officials said Wednesday they plan to ask the county’s legislative delegation to work with them to change a state law that says who can regulate smoking.

The law — dubbed the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act — has a section that “preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject.”

That preemption is believed to apply to all smoking laws, said City Attorney Bob Pritt, and it would make it easy to toss out a local law if it was contested in court.

There are at least a dozen local governments in Florida that have banned smoking, Pritt said.

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said he wanted to request the help of the county’s legislative delegation, rather than going forward with a discussion about whether it was feasible to ban smoking on city beaches.

“This is the real deal,” he said. “We want to change the statute, or at least have the Legislature tweak it. We want home rule. We want to make our own decisions.”

Barnett said in June he planned to once again ask staff to look into whether it was feasible to ban smoking on Naples beaches.

The request came two years after City Council rejected an ordinance that would have banned smoking at all city-owned beaches and parks – four beach access points and about 30 parks throughout the city.

“I would like to break new ground ... and see where it goes,” he said about his request.

Council members said they supported Barnett’s request to bring the issue before the legislative delegation later this month.

Collier County’s legislative delegation is scheduled to meet Nov. 23.

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