ST. CLOUD — Continuing efforts to snuff out smoking, the “Friendly Soldier City” is attacking on another front: the outdoors.
The city, which in 2002 was the first in Central Florida to turn down job applicants who use tobacco, recently passed an ordinance banning smoking in city parks, excluding the lakefront, during children’s activities. The move is an effort to keep children safe from secondhand smoke.
Kristin Korkki, St. Cloud parks and recreation director, said the ordinance, which was modeled after a law passed in Port Orange in April, stemmed from parent complaints about smoking in the bleachers at the city’s ball fields.
“There had been a lot [of complaints] over the years,” she said. “It’s empowering the clubs to enforce the rules” already in place.The decision to keep adults from exposing children to secondhand smoke was easy, Mayor Glenn Sangiovanni said.
“If the kid wants to play sports, or there are siblings joining mom and dad and people are lighting up, they are being exposed unjustly,” he said.
In addition to St. Cloud, Port Orange and Brevard County also have laws against smoking in parks, following other governments across the country that have created smokeless recreation environments. Beachfront cities in Orange County, Calif., such as Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, banned smoking on all city beaches and beach access areas, and cities in several states, including New Jersey and Minnesota, have outlawed smoking in parks altogether.
“I know that there are laws prohibiting smoking at outdoor venues in many cities around the country, and the fact is there’s no safe level of secondhand smoke . . . and these laws are to protect the health of our children,” said anti-smoking advocate Patrick Reynolds, the grandson of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds.
“Just because someone is outside in a crowded venue, those nearby are still exposed to secondhand smoke,” Reynolds said.
In Port Orange, enforcement of the no-smoking law has gone off without a hitch. Signs are posted around city parks informing visitors they are in smoke-free areas.
“I think it’s worked very, very well,” Port Orange Mayor Allen Green said. “I think we’ve had one incident where we had someone who didn’t abide by it.”
Green, a nonsmoker who has lost friends to smoking-related illnesses, said he has received positive reaction to the law, which has been in effect less than a year.
“Smoker friends have come up to me and think it’s a good idea,” he said.
Reynolds, a former pack-a-day smoker, started The Foundation for a Tobaccofree Earth after seeing family members die of smoking- related illnesses. He said he has seen states and cities become more conscious of keeping secondhand smoke away from nonsmokers.
“Several States have now passed laws that have banned smoking 100 percent in restaurants and the workplace . . . this is an idea whose time has come,” he said.