Employees’ Health Sparks Policy Change for Local Restaurant
December 6, 2016

As Jim Stewart watched his employee leave work in an ambulance, caused by a severe reaction to secondhand smoke, he knew changes needed to be made. Stewart, the manager of the Dairy Queen Grill and Chill at the Hwy 326 and I75 interchange, initially felt an outdoor smoking area was an expected service to offer customers who use tobacco. However, after realizing the huge impact that secondhand smoke exposure has on non-smoking customers and his employees, he was motivated to formally make the property grounds entirely tobacco free. In addition to the parking lot, storage areas, and bathrooms, smoking, vaping, and other forms of tobacco use are no longer permitted in the outdoor eating area.

New signs will be provide to promote that the outdoor seating area will now be tobacco free!

The decision to implement a tobacco free policy is not always easy. Stewart was concerned about losing revenue from his patrons who smoke or use other forms of tobacco. He looked to Measure Up Marion for help. Community Health Advocates Sarah Damien and Tammy Slaughter, QuitDoc Foundation staff who also serve as partners of Measure Up Marion, educated him on the importance of eliminating second hand smoke exposure in outdoor spaces, helping him to see the value in the bigger picture. Increased maintenance and cleaning costs, along with the health risks to him, the staff, and restaurant patrons, outweighed the potential loss of revenue due to a few customers who prefer to continue use of tobacco in public spaces.

Measure Up Marion is a 3-year initiative aimed at improving the overall health of all Marion County residents, reaching them where they live, play, dine, and worship. The initiative is led by the Heart of Florida Health Center and is funded through a grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Several area businesses and county services have partnered to reach the goals outlined within the grant program. The role of the QuitDoc Foundation, as outlined in the grant, is to create tobacco free environments throughout Marion County through policy change.

If your business or organization would like help reviewing the benefits of making your property tobacco-free, contact Sarah Damien at 352-538-1941.