- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Florida could be the next state to declare pornography a public health crisis if a Republican lawmaker has his say.

State Rep. Ross Spano of Dover has filed a bill, H.R. 157, “recognizing the public health crisis created by pornography,” the Orlando Weekly first reported Wednesday.

Similar to measures passed recently in fellow red states, the senator’s proposal calls on Florida to acknowledge the alleged dangers of pornography and address “the need for education, prevention, research and policy change to protect the citizens of this state.”

Other language included in the Republican’s two-page resolution accuses pornography of “contributing to the hypersexualization” of adolescents and claims that kids who view adult content are at a higher risk of developing low self-esteem, eating disorders and a desire to engage in dangerous sexual behavior.

The bill also calls pornography “potentially biologically addictive” and orders the state to create “recovery programs” from porno addicts.

Mr. Spano introduced the bill Monday in the state Senate for the 2018 legislative session and has already earned praise from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the country’s leading anti-pornography organization.

“This is a great step forward,” the group said in a blog post Tuesday. “Already Utah, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Dakota have formally recognized the public health harms of pornography. Will Flordia [sic] be next?”

Lawrence Walters, a porn industry attorney who practices in Florida, certainly hopes not.

“This is an embarrassment to the State of Florida,” Mr. Walters told XBIZ, an adult industry trade publication.

“We are more evolved, and have too much respect for individual freedom, to be having this debate,” he added. “Hopefully it will be short-lived.”

Previous reporting has suggested Floridians are quite fond of pornography, in fact. An analysis of DVD purchases, internet searches and the number of porn shops earned Orlando the top spot when Men’s Health magazine released its 2012 list of the smuttiest cities in America, with Tampa and Miami claiming eighth and twelfth place, respectively.

According to the Orlando Weekly, even Mr. Spano’s personal Twitter account “liked” an x-rated tweet published in January by Reality Kings, a Miami-based pornography studio.

“Obviously, I have a long social media history on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram since I was first elected in 2012,” Mr. Spano responded Wednesday. “With a thorough examination of my accounts, it will be easy to see that this is not my doing.”

Utah became the first state in the nation to formally label pornography a “public health hazard” after Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution in 2016, paving the way for lawmakers across the country to weigh similar measures of their own in recent months. Most recently, Tennessee most followed suit in June when Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed a similar resolution declaring a “public health crisis” in the state caused by pornography.

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