A recent article in the Tampa Bay Times highlights that several dive bars in the Tampa area have made the business decision to implement smokefree indoor air policies as part of their response to the pandemic.
Some started selling food as a way to remain open during the pandemic. As restaurants, they became smokefree. Now with bars reopened in the state, some are keeping the smokefree policy in place.
A local favorite, The Hub, is among those bars deciding to go smokefree. A quote from co-owner Charles Fox, sums it up well: “Other bars in other states maintain the dive status with no smoking. It’s just a little different. Like when new craft beer came out. People adjust.”
Florida’s statewide Clean Indoor Air Act, passed as a constitutional amendment by voters in 2003, ensures smokefree air in non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants, and state-regulated gambling venues.
However the state law did not address bars due to tobacco industry interference with smokefree laws at that time. In many states, cities have taken the lead to close gaps in smokefree protections at the local level. Florida, along with several other states including Tennessee and Pennsylvania, have preemption laws created by Big Tobacco lobbyists. Preemption means that cities like Tampa have their hands tied and are not able to enact life-saving smokefree workplace laws, even during the pandemic.
We urge Florida’s legislature to stand up to Big Tobacco and finally close the gap in smokefree protections for all of Florida’s bars.