Protesters Light Up at 'Smoke In' on Gulfport Beach

A handful of people lit up at Gulfport Beach in protest of the city's smoking ban. A St. Pete attorney had hoped to get cited and challenge the ban in court.

Despite the yellow "Tobacco Free Area" signs posted at the Gulfport Beach, several smokers lit up their cigars and pipes Saturday morning.

"I think that we have to protect what little rights we do have as smokers period," Rossi Bonugli said.

Bonugli came out to support the peaceful protest. He's been a cigar smoker most of his life and believes a ban on the beach is "going too far."

"I understand not smoking inside, not smoking in restaurants, but no smoking on the beach? You've got to be kidding."

Bonugli heard about the "smoke in" protest from St. Petersburg attorney Andy Strickland. Strickland organized the demonstration and planned to receive a citation for violating the city's no smoking ordinance.

"It takes people to stand up for something that they believe in. I'm looking forward to challenging it after I get cited," Strickland said.

Strickland wants to challenge the citation in Pinellas County Court because he says the city does not have the authority to ban smoking on the beach. He says according to a Florida Statute, the regulation of smoking is up to the state, not local governments.

Florida Statute 386.209

Regulation of smoking preempted to state. This part expressly preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject; however, school districts may further restrict smoking by persons on school district property.

"There's a specific reason why the state Legislature put this preemption clause in the Clean Indoor Act of '85, which was reaffirmed by Florida voters in 2002 when it was amended. Clearly, it gives the state exclusive jurisdiction over this issue it's because we don't want piecemeal ordinances where you can smoke on this beach and this beach."

Despite Strickland's efforts, the demonstration did not go as planned. Due to the lack of proper signage on the beach, Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent previously advised officers not to ticket smokers.

In an interview with Gulfport Patch on Friday, Vincent said several yellow "Tobacco Free Area" signs are posted, but the large brown signs that list the ordinances and other bans on the beach are not updated yet. For now, he's advised officers to warn people of the new ordinance and document that a person has been warned.

During the demonstration a Gulfport Police officer patrolled the beach but did not write any citations.

Strickland plans to hold another "smoke in" once the proper signs are in place.

"When does this type of regulation and big brother stuff come to an end?" Strickland said.

mtober January 17, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Mr. Fish- please don't confuse your personal vendetta regarding property code enforcement issues with the ordinance that bans smoking and how that came about. Readers- It is best to watch the video of the meeting and listen to Mr. Salzman's comments and judge for yourself. http://www.mygulfport.us/City_Meetings/Videos/2011/100411RegularCouncil.html
CJ January 17, 2012 at 06:54 AM
If people choose to try and battle against these bans in court..let them. Our cities can use any revenues that people want to waste thier money on. Win or lose, the courts ''always'' make thier money one way or another. They are a business first. Ever notice how if you ''win'' fighting a ticket..it still costs you a bundle? I think the saying is that you win the battle, but lose the war. They will lose these fights...just like all over America the non-smokers are winning. State by State. Again...I repeat..the days of smokers disregarding the wishes of others are numbered. That goes for lawyers who are smokers also. The city governments will take thier money as easily as everyone else's. I don't fault the smokers for putting up a fight..but it is futile. Yes..rogue judges, etc, have managed to throw up some temporary obsticles..but that is all they are. This one statue that smokers keep yeilding as a law they claim protects thier rights as smokers in Florida, is going to be completely defeated in the end. It is happening everywhere. Florida will be no different.
CJ January 17, 2012 at 06:56 AM
This fight by smokers is silly. If you want to smoke at the beach, there is nothing that is going to stop you...just give up trying to smoke at the beach when others are around. Speeding laws don't stop speeders from speeding..but they are fools to be too flagrant about it in many situations..such as around cops and people with cell phones. Same goes for smokers. Cell phones certainly put a stop to people like me when I was a teenager over 40 years ago..when racing cars around and burning tires was rampant. Cell phones broke me of that..and they can bust smokes just as easy.
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I told you fools months ago it was against the statelaw and now youve got a lawyer leading a revolt............I also said gulfport would never issue any fines or tickets for fear of being sued in court. The signs are up and the damage has been done,its time to sue the city over their beack and parks ban as its always been against state law.........But poor gulfport smokefree nazis just may have to give back all their stimulus grant money they got for passing the ban!
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Your smokefree law just like the indoor ban is based upon JUNK SCIENCE,your going to lose even the indoor bans just because of your never ending zealot approach to smoking,how long did you think it could last anyway............
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:21 PM
the perfect catch 22 all I can do is laugh.
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Im back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You ready to debate your sides junk science yet again.........
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:24 PM
CJ it wont be the smokers suing losing,it will be your city councils losingmthey know full well and good statelaw supersedes local law,thats what preemption means,you lose smokefree now start writing tickets and false arrest of these folks,PLEASE DO IT!
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:30 PM
City Attorney Salzman has stated numerous times that the city laws of Gulfport supersede both the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution. What planet did you get beemed in from,the US constitution is the highest law in the land then the state constitution,your local codes must comply with national standards ie building codes,electrical codes etc.........Health codes must be proven before action by regulation can occur,when it comes to second ahnd smoke,youd also have to outlaw grill smoke and people breathing indoors they all give off chemcials in the air. People give off cold viruses and other communicable disease.....perhaps you would need a health card printed daily for each person befor entry into any building just to make sure nobodys sick and spreading it everywhere. But its just as easy to outlaw everything that gives off anything.......start by outlawing city hall meetings where public particiapation can spread viruses and bacterial germs......which are know and proven to be a health threat to us all!
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Current state law: This legislation expressly preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject".: Sarasota and gulfport along with other communities are in clear violation of state law!
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Nord Med. 1994;109(4):121-5. [Environmental somatization syndrome. How to deal with the external milieu syndrome?]. [Article in Swedish] Nilsson CG, Göthe CJ, Molin C. SourceMed Rehabiliteringskliniken, Huddinge Sjukhus. Abstract Somatization is a tendency to experience and communicate psychogenic distress in the form of somatic symptoms and to seek medical help for them. Patients suffering from environmental somatization syndrome (ESS) consider their symptoms to be caused by exposure to chemical or physical components of the external environment or by ergonomic stress at work. ESS is distinguished by mental contagiousness and a tendency to cluster. Sometimes it explodes in wide-spread epidemics that may be escalated by mass-media campaigns. Extensive ESS epidemics have been connected to, i.a., arsenic, carbon monoxide ("generator gas poisoning"), mercury ("oral galvanism"), carbon-free copy papers, electromagnetic fields ("electric allergy") and repetitive movements ("repetition strain injury", RSI). The typical patient directs the interest on the external environment, refuses alternative explanations of his symptoms and abhors any suggestion of a psychogenic etiology.
JackE January 17, 2012 at 07:34 PM
The community is often placed in difficult positions by lobby groups calling for drastic measures to eliminate alleged disease-inducing exposures. When hygienic evils occur simultaneously with an ESS epidemic, it is essential to strictly differ the hygienic problems from the ESS problems. If mismanaged, measures aimed at reducing hygienic inconveniences may aggravate the complex of ESS problems. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8170802
CJ January 17, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Don't worry or celebrate too much ''JackE''...alias ''JohnE'' and many other identities. It does not matter how we get you, but we will get you. Even the State law issue will soon be settled in favor of non-smokers. It may be true that Florida has not yet taken care of this detour, but other states have , and Florida will soon also. It is just a matter of a little more time. Hogwash only goes so far because the pig is always still dirty. That is the beauty and irony of littering laws and bans right beside smoking laws and bans...they go hand in hand. The beauty part is that it does not matter if you get busted for smoking or not..or whether there is any present enforceaqble law or not...but you can certainly get busted for littering. The irony part is that smokers would likely not have ''anywhere near as many issues with non-smokers'' if they were not also disgusting liter bugs.
CJ January 17, 2012 at 07:55 PM
JackE..try this one: anyEnamedjackorjohn@iscrazy.org
Philip Penrose January 17, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Instead of beating this dead horse and repeating everything that has been repeatedly repeated...so to speak....let's just let the people that actually walk the walk do what they need to do - let the smokers smoke on the beach and let the law react. It will work itself out. Posting here is nothing but posing and bickering And just a summary of my opinions for those interested: Do I think Gulfport needs a smoking ban on the beach? No. Do I think Gulfport needs a litter ban on the beach enforced? Yes Do I think cigarettes are bad for one's health? Absolutely. I'm stating this to make my opinions clear - not to engage in an forum flame tournament. Been there, done that, it's boring and a waste of bandwidth. Philip Penrose/Gulfport
CJ January 17, 2012 at 08:35 PM
The Patch is a public forum. Even though it is the ''Gulfport Patch''..it is still not the private blog for Gulfport Council members and Citizens. Perhaps there is a private Gulfport blog that only has only select, approved, people on it so those people can only hear what they want to hear? The Patch is also for amusement. If you back down from the protestors in person or in blogs, then they think they have won...and in acuality...it does provide them with some degree victory. Look at the protestors..see what they got a away with? Sure...they were all behaved..smoking thier pipes and cigars and cigs that day and being sure to not throw anything on the ground...but you can be sure they could not wait to get somehwere so they could simply throw thier nasty litter on the ground again. JohnE, JackE, Gulfport citizen...anyone on these blogs that try and build thier support for smoking needs stood up to or you hand the ball to them. ''Forum flame tournament''? Uh..what is new about that...and it is obviously not short of contestants? ''Engaging'' is the essense of what a blog is all about. The middle of the road is the worse place to stand and nothings works out very well there.
JackE January 17, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Phillip hefty debate lets others know whats going on,those stooping to name calling are the ones at guilt here. Ive provided much needed information about the junk science surrounding the shs/ets agenda. water vapor and air how so much hate can be directed at a few burning leaves in a indoor or outdoor venue is just unreal,mythology at its best!
JackE January 17, 2012 at 08:36 PM
better get a new link that ones dead as your debating skills!
CJ January 17, 2012 at 08:40 PM
...ha ha...made you look..oh..by the way..your shoe is untied..
CJ January 17, 2012 at 08:42 PM
...I think you must secretly be PP's drinking/smoking friend he wish would stop...
CJ January 17, 2012 at 08:47 PM
..your comments are not even your arguments..they are nothing but copy and paste...you have this down to a quack science video on a loop..
CJ January 17, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I have to get back to work..if I stick around any longer we will start to hear how J..bs..E is ex Navy, an Astronaut (although he is out there), pro diver, etc, etc, etc...yawn...
Philip Penrose January 17, 2012 at 09:00 PM
CJ - I'm saying - this is going around in circles...it's repetitive now. I stated my thoughts on the subject one last time in case anyone forgot...or was at all interested. That is not at all backing down or handing them them the ball. I'll NEVER agree with anyone who thinks smoking is safe. I've buried smokers...people with emphysema, cancer, etc. (and if someone should point out that I don't really know if their smoking caused it - they will simply be ignored). But - I won't go round and round in circles either. Like you say - The Patch is also for amusement....but playing the same game over and over gets tiring. And JackE - again - the "hefty debate" here has run its course. Religion, politics, gay/straight, dogs/cats...there will always be disagreement...and there will always be a new generation coming along to debate these issues and more. (you want to see a forum blow up? I should post my thoughts on organised religion, God, Jesus, heaven and hell...LOL) I still say that as time goes by, those people seriously upset about the ban will take action, more than likely first on the beach as was attempted (after the 'official ban' begins) - and then in the courts. Those are the ones really speaking out...not the few folks posting here on a forum. Peace out, ya'll !
CJ January 18, 2012 at 12:02 AM
ah...but Phi''lip''..I too remember that one blog a while back that JohnE caused so much trouble on. Remember how it got many peoples comments deleted by Cherlene? He got us all going. I see what you are saying..and beleive me..he is not going to do that again. but..i also remember you getting annoyed by him ''several'' times on that past blog...and saying numerous times you were not going to reply back to him. Well..,you , me , and everyone else felt the same way...but he is such a rascal...there was hardly a one of us that could not resist trading punches with him. So..don't forget..you have been guilty of it also...lol! I say that with complete humor meant...because JohnE/JackE ..with me..really is amusing...but at the same time...I like to try and nuetralizing him a little here and there so that new boggers don't get the idea that he is of sound mind. You and I know better. I am tired of this blog. It was spent anyway, but he ruined it. I have had my say with him. JoneE/JackE is the ''party pooper''..he is the guy who goes around and takes the lampshades off of people heads..and I don't like that. Hope you know I am just trying to be serious, with strong reservations about trying too hard to do so. Sorry that I enjoy insulting him so much. I'l control myself.
CJ January 18, 2012 at 12:07 AM
anyway..I got it now..I need to wait until a whole new generation comes along..great..that should give me time to relax...no..wait..I'll be dead then...I am not sure ''there are going to be'' any more genertaions come along...we aren't getting any younger here...don't know about you..
Philip Penrose January 18, 2012 at 12:40 AM
CJ - Understand NONE of my comments were directed to you...they were just in general. By the way - I am innocent of nothing! ;)
Mr. Fish January 18, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Dear mtober! Perhaps you should read the above mention Florida Statute and see that the protestors are right, The city does not have the authority to pass smoking laws. Litter yes. Smoking no. So once again the city attorney has led the city council astray and in all probability the ordinance will be found in violation of Florida Statutes and declared null and void, if the city chooses to defend it. In all probability they will since its a few extra bucks for the attorneys, they would most likely lose in court. But if the city council wants to say they have hometown rule on this issue. The courts will decide. And the citizens and the city budget will lose. Read the whole Florida Statute 386 regarding Tobacco.
CJ January 18, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Every point you make is valid until the Statute is changed. This same tactic has been used in other States to slow down the smoking bans until sooner or later they will pass laws that ''will '' stick. It still does not make the present laws useless, though. It will not be cheap for people to fight these tickets. Even if they win..which they very well may...it could end up being ''very'' expensive for them..and the city will still make money. The smokers will win the battle, but lose the war. Even if a smoking ban violator is a lawyer himself, it will be costly to him with his own time. This make these laws a very strong deterant. Personally, I don't expect to see a lot of people getting tickets for smoking unless they are trying very hard to do so. Littering, though, is different. There will be tickets for littering...and they are possibly going to cost violators a lot more than just the amount of the fines if they use a lawyer, time off work, etc. Let's not forget. It is not just smokers that are littering. the other litter is really terrible also. I think the focus is smokers litter is letting the other litter bugs off the hook too much.. Boy...would I just love to see more of these people who thrown entire fast foods bags out on the ground ticketed and/or arrested.
Jason Nofi April 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
It's obviously very selfish for anyone to smoke near other people, whether it be on the beach, in the street or anywhere else at that matter. Tobacco kills people. Second hand smoke is worse then first hand.People who smoke know this but they do what they do anyway. If your allergic to honey, am i going to put honey in your tea? It's not right to be passive about hurting other people. People that don't have compassion for the well being and health of other people (especially children) are not very nice people. In other words, if you want to hurt yourself that's fine but at least have enough compassion to not hurt others in the process. Very selfish and prideful to do otherwise.
Peter J Dunlay April 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Trying to legislate common decency simply doesn't work. I am a (pipe) smoker. I never smoke indoors and I always make certain that my smoking doesn't offend anyone around me no matter where I choose to smoke. That alone should be sufficient!


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