Like most US states, Florida has recently increased efforts to ban or limit smoking in public places, beginning with 1985's Florida Clean Indoor Air Act. In 2002, 71 percent of Florida citizens voted for a constitutional amendment to prohibit smoking in most indoor workplaces. This smoking ban became effective in 2003. As a result, it is now illegal to smoke indoors in nearly all workplace areas and spaces open to the public in Florida.
An Overview of Florida Smoking Laws
The Florida legislature enacted the FCIAA in 1985 with the intention of protecting people in the state from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. The prohibitions contained in the FCIAA were extended in 2003 to prohibit smoking in all enclosed indoor workplaces. Florida's Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) are responsible for enforcing the provisions of the FCIAA in Florida facilities. Significantly, the Act expressly overrides any inconsistent municipal or county regulations on the subject of smoking.
Smoking regulations in Florida prohibit smoking in most indoor public places and (since 2003) workplaces as well, including restaurants and non-tribal gaming facilities. The Act lists seven exclusive exceptions to this smoking ban: (1) stand-alone bars as defined; (2) retail tobacco shops as defined; (3) designated hotel rooms; (4) tobacco manufacturing facilities; (5) custom smoking rooms in international airport in-transit lounges as defined; (6) smoking cessation programs approved by the DOH; and (7) membership associations as defined as long as no one is working.
Smoking in Indoor Workplaces
The Act prohibits smoking in all "enclosed indoor workplaces," defined as any place where people engage in work and that is bounded on all sides and above by physical barriers. This prohibition extends to state and local government workplaces.
Smoking in Schools
The Act includes educational facilities in its smoking ban for enclosed indoor workplaces. In addition, the Act makes it illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to smoke within 1,000 feet of any public or private grade school between the hours of 6:00 AM and midnight.
Read More: Smoking Area Guidelines
Smoking in Restaurants and Bars
The Act's definition of enclosed indoor workplaces in which smoking is prohibited also includes restaurants and restaurant bar areas. However, the Act specifically exempts "stand-alone bars" from its ban, defined as separate establishments that make no more than 10 percent of their gross revenue from the sale of food.
Penalties for Violation of the FCIAA and Enforcement
According to the FCIAA, signs designating no-smoking areas must be posted in appropriate areas in order to place patrons and entrants on notice. Anyone who smokes in a designated non-smoking area commits a non-criminal violation. The first violation is punishable by no more than $100 while subsequent violations are punishable by no more than $500.
Florida residents have the right to report violations of the FCIAA to the DOH and other appropriate state agencies. Upon notification of observed violations, the DOH or other enforcement authority will issue the requisite fine to the violator as well as a notice to comply to the person in charge of the place in which the violation occurred. If that person fails to comply within 30 days, the authority will fine him too, with a civil penalty between $250 and $750 for the first violation and up to $2,000 for any subsequent violation.
Elissa Bassini has been writing since 2001. She has been a law firm associate, judicial intern and a teaching assistant/research consultant at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a 2005 Writers Capstone Honor. Her writing appears in university curricula, research and marketing materials. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, summa cum laude, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania.