Last Thursday, a piece of legislation that I introduced this year passed the Senate Regulated Industries Committee unanimously. If passed, Senate Bill 224 will ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors in the state of Florida.
Electronic cigarettes and similar devices have the potential to encourage life-long addictive and unhealthy habits in children. Unfortunately, we are seeing increased use of these products by children in middle and high school.
By regulating their sale to minors, Florida can stay ahead of the growing market and keep these products out of the hands of our children.
Currently, there are no age restrictions on alternative nicotine products in Florida despite studies that show use is increasing.
SB 224 will now move to the Committee on Criminal Justice.
Allowing a child to become dependent upon nicotine is not something Florida should be interested in supporting, and SB 224 is a step in the right direction.
Committee makes recommendations
I am proud to sit on the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, which this week finalized a report that summarizes the select committee's work to investigate policies, spending and other governmental activities affecting releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and the Indian River Lagoon Estuaries.
On Tuesday, Chair Joe Negron (R-Stuart) presented the final report, which received unanimous approval from committee members.
The report includes a comprehensive list of short- and long-term recommendations to improve the environmental and economic health of the Caloosahatchee River, the St. Lucie system and the Indian River Lagoon.
Among the recommendations was $15 million of funding for the C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir, which is critical to the ongoing water storage efforts in the Caloosahatchee watershed.
Additionally, the committee recommended $500,000 for oyster re-population and sea-grass bed restoration to the Caloosahatchee estuary.
The options outlined in the recommendations focus on three key areas: improving water quality; expanding water storage capacity; and strengthening the current relationship between the state and federal government by clarifying areas of responsibility and working to improve accountability.
To view the report, please visit: flsenate.gov/topics/irllob.
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto is the representative for Florida's District 30, which includes parts of Lee County and Charlotte County. Contact her at 1926 Victoria Ave., Second Floor, Fort Myers, FL 33901, or (239) 338-2570.