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Smoking Ban 'Compromise' to Lift Ban on Beach

City Attorney Andrew Salzman is drafting an ordinance he says would "resolve" the lawsuit challenging the city's smoking ban.

St. Petersburg attorney Andy Strickland has been fighting the city's smoking ban since January of last year, claiming the ban is illegal and unconstitutional.

Strickland held two "smoke in" protests on the beach and filed a lawsuit against the City of Gulfport regarding a citation he received for smoking on the beach in April.

Gulfport City Attorney Andrew Salzman says he's held several shade meetings, attended hearings and filed a motion to dismiss, again, on December 14, 2012.

During Thursday night's City Council Meeting, Attorney Salzman told councilors about the next step regarding the lawsuit.

Salzman plans to resolve the pending litigation before both parties are due back in court on Feb. 25. He is moving forward with drafting an ordinance he considers a "compromise."

“(It would) allow for designated smoking areas in the parks, outdoor playgrounds and athletic fields with visual access to those facilities,” Salzman said.

Salzman worked directly with Attorney Andy Strickland in drafting specific language for the ordinance. Strickland says the main change in the new ordinance will lift the ban on the beach. There will still be a ban on playgrounds, athletic fields and parks.

While he maintains that any regulation of outdoor smoking is unconstitutional, he says he's trying to be reasonable.

"There’s no sense why people just simply can’t work issues out without going through needless and constant lititation," Strickland said.

"We can agree to disagree and we can do so respectfully. . . We realize at the end of the day, it’s all about getting something accomplished," Strickland added.

“I negotiated the language with Mr. Strickland. Mr. Strickland is in agreement with the proposed language change,” Andrew Salzman said.

If the council votes on the new ordinance during the next two meetings, Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, it would pass before the next hearing, according to Salzman and Strickland.

If the new ordinance includes the agreed upon language, Strickland will drop the lawsuit. But, “If it’s not passed with the specific language that he and I agreed upon, he and I will go back to court,” Strickland said.

"We're trying to resolve the issue. It's a waste of city time and money and it's a waste of Mr. Strickland's time and money," Attorney Andrew Salzman added.

Salzman will bring the proposed ordinance to the City Council for first reading on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at Gulport City Hall.

****

In 2012 Andy Strickland deliberatly lit up a cigar on Gulfport Beach three times in order to receive a citation. Strickland first held a "smoke in" in January but was not cited due to the lack of proper signage of the new ordinance. In February he was cited, but the charges were dropped by the city. Then, in April, Strickland, joined by several supporters, was ticketed for smoking a cigar on the beach.

According to a Florida Statute, the regulation of smoking is up to the state, not local governments, Strickland has said.

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.

About the Ordinance:

Gulfport City Council voted 5-0 to pass a smoking ban on the beach, athletic fields and facilities and playgrounds in the city on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The ban affects the following locations in Gulfport:

The ban does not affect:

Related articles:

CJ January 05, 2013 at 02:20 AM
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. And...so has this local smoking fight.
Paul Ray January 05, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Bottom line, the way to destroy a democracy is to take away peoples rights one by one and always in the name of safety, and for added impact always include the reference to children.
Paul Ray January 05, 2013 at 12:03 PM
I agree with the compromise, I do personally do not smoke, and really do not enjoy the smell of anothers smoke, but to allow it away from others seems fair enough to even me.
CJ January 05, 2013 at 05:22 PM
I am curious about something. I may look at this from a different perspective than many of you long time locals. My family is new here....moved her in April. However, we knew we were going to move here for about 3-4 years before we actually got ourselves here...rather ''limping'', I may add. 4 years ago we thought we were going to move here in 3 months, and it tuned into about 3 or more years instead to get it done. The housing and economy bust hit right at the beginning and middle of when we were trying to assemble out funds to move here with and ...well...we lost our butts, and only had a very small amount of money to move here with compared to what we originally planned on having. But...we got here...and it is till the best thing we ever did for ourselves to move to this wonderful paradise. During all that time, I did a lot of research on Pinellas Country and also followed many news stories..including this one about the local smoking ''issues''. I say ''issues'', because it really ''is'' about several things than simply smoking on the beach. I was wondering how many people remember when Gulfport joined in on smoking problems...like so many other places in the US have done long before Gulfport did. Anyone remember what , in my opinion, seemed to be the trigger for our own local attack on this problem? I ask this because it seems like the problem that started it all, is not going to go away and is still here. This is an easy riddle, so no clues...lol.
Philip Penrose January 05, 2013 at 07:51 PM
It harkens back to a former City Council member. And that's all I'll say on the subject. LOL I remain closed-mouth on the subject. ;) We have been here and done this once before, , CJ
Lincoln Farnum January 07, 2013 at 01:16 AM
'"There’s no sense why people just simply can’t work issues out without going through needless and constant lititation," Strickland said'...while initiating needless and constant litigation; just one of the things that gives attorneys a bad name. Smoke cigars in your garage like the rest of us do.
William Smith January 07, 2013 at 02:44 AM
The litigation was needed because some folks learn the hard way. Mr. Strickland gives lawyers a good name for fighting in what he believes in instead of complaining and taking the path of least resistance.
Denise Lowe January 07, 2013 at 05:09 PM
First of all the designated smoking area at the Little League Park is right in front of the concession stand on the city side of the side walk. Everyone get to see all the parents smoking, coaches and board members. Not to mention k ids inhaling second hand smoke. Now that being said, the smoking ban has never been about the fore mentioned. The smoking ban started because of the trash on the beaches. Massive amounts of cigarette butts on the beach that a group of neighbors picked up on a beach, during a beach cleanup. A smoking ban will not and did not address the littering issue. What needs to be done is strong ordnance on littering that will be enforced. Such as, “If you are caught littering cigarette butts or anything like: soda tops, condom wrappers, beer cans, fishing string ect… You should be issued a $500 ticket. I don’t think a smoking ban then or revised is the answer Denise Lowe
CJ January 08, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Aw Phillip, lol, you know we all like it when you are ''not'' closed-mouthed. Your comments are always very fair, interesting, and worth listening to. Why start now being closed-mouthed? Besides....'''John E'' is not here now..or whoever he pops up pretending to be. But, we can be sure he is probably reading this. His type never goes away, but we can't let the fight be just his. I am sure he is just giddy seeing the recent rulings and the adjustment in the smoking ban that will be made. All shallow victories. and only delays of the inevitable. Fine. So what. Big deal. The entire country has these little smoking issues going on in different stages...but the end result seems to be the same. Eventually these smoking bans ''will'' be on the State level and will have teeth that will stick. Most knew the lack of a State ban only allowed these local bans to be short. My question was harmless. The same list of events that started this local talk of smoking bans are going to repeat themselves. Since nobody will bite completely, then let's see if my memory is correct or not. I believe it all started simply enough: after one Gulfport Volunteer project. I think it may have been a litter clean-up along 49th St S? Like so many other litter volunteer activities, that so many fine local people help with, it was mentioned that it was hard to ignore the obvious fact that most of the litter was cigarette butts. And then it all took on a life of it's own. Am I correct?
CJ January 08, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Very good Denise!! You are perfectly correct! I am so impressed. My riddle was not really that hard, but you can be proud you are still among the few that seem to remember where this all started. I knew somebody would know! Well...it's that time of year again. All these litter projects are going to start up again, and the cig butts are still going to be the ugly truth about what needs to be done. Obviously...it's the litter that is the real issue...but we can't speak of littering without talking of smoking in the same sentence. That has never changed. Do you remember the vintage ''Crying Indian'' stop littering commercials from the 60's and 70's? It would be wonderful to see a huge nationwide anti-litter push again be moved front and center on our nation. Litter really bums me out. A rise in ''citizens arrests'' would be welcome...and scary good. All it takles is two people to sign the police report when they show up, and them be willing to show up in court. The police can't win this fight without our help...and that is the type of help they need. People willing to show up in court once they write the tickets. If they can be confident the citizens will show up, then sure they will come...this could be easy money for the city.

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