What’s on the Horizon for Tobacco Free Parks in Marion County?
September 12, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) of Marion county is gearing up for the new fiscal year, starting with the Legislative Delegation that took place on September 10. The partnership was represented by a youth member of the local Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT); which is detailed in the corresponding SWAT article.

The main focus for this year’s delegation session and for the TFP is currently on parks and the use of traditional and electronic cigarettes in areas where children and families play and gather. For months the community members have voiced their opinions at the City Council meetings, with the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series being the vehicle.

The City of Ocala is in a position that is shared among every municipality in the State of Florida which is outlined in the Florida Clean Indoor Act and the Florida Statues which states that the law, “expressly preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject.” Basically, Florida law overrides local laws, and that local government may not enforce policies that are more strict than the state laws. Presently, Florida law prohibits the use of smoking indoors only; not outside spaces. This isn’t to say that municipalities are shrugging it off and falling in line. In fact, many successfully continue to create policies that prohibit smoking in outdoor and public places, including parks.

In Marion County, the TFP has partnered with several organizations who are concerned with the issue of smoking and vaping in public places; especially where children gather. One of its partners, the Marion County Children’s Alliance (MCCA), is the organization who leads Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). This group of youth has partnered with SWAT to tackle smoking and vaping in the parks head on. They continue to participate in several park clean ups throughout the year, create petitions, and educate their peers.

Tobacco litter, among other litter like glass bottles and other paraphernalia, in our parks is extremely common to find. It harms the environment, the local wildlife, and creates the image that litter is normal in these areas. The SWAT and SADD youth groups combined will be instrumental in the long term when confronting the decision makers in the community, bringing the issue of tobacco use and litter into a new light.

Meanwhile, the TFP partners continues to work with and MCCA on strategies for policy implementation, urging for tobacco free park initiatives, and the long process of bringing of the issues to decision makers who want to change take action. Signage may come first, and a policy to follow in later years; it may take time for anything to come of it, but the fact still remains that the community members want clouds of smoke and vapor out of areas where people congregate with their families and children.

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To learn more about QuitDoc Foundation, or Marion County Tobacco Free Partnership, visit our website or Like us on Facebook.
QuitDoc Foundation www.QuitDoc.com
Marion County Tobacco Free Partnership http://www.tfp-marion.org/ and http://facebook.com/TFPMarionCounty
Lauren Fischer · Tobacco Prevention Specialist · 352-359-5383 · LFischer@QuitDoc.com