What’s on the Horizon for Tobacco Free Parks in Marion County?
March 11, 2020

Tobacco free environments is something that every Marion County resident has a right to, because it provides clean air to breathe. As a former smoker, I understand the urge to smoke or vape, but I also have a greater appreciation for smoke and vapor free air around me. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Marion County strives to improve the air quality in public places all over the county by aiding in the development and normalization of tobacco free policies.

This year, there were several community events that participated in tobacco free policies. The Glow with the Flow 5k, the Fall Feast, The World’s Greatest Baby Shower, the Strawberry Festival, and the newest event to join this year was Ocala’s FAFO. All the event organizers provided positive feedback on the policy in place and have been exceptional advocates for the de-normalizing of tobacco use in public places, especially in places where youth gather. SWAT youth were eager to participate in the Strawberry Festival’s tobacco free event message, by gathering the support of participants through pledge cards for tobacco free parks. They were hugely successful in this endeavor, gathering over 70 pledges.

Tobacco free park polices are a sensitive topic; as of right now is only considered as a polite courtesy when visiting a park. It only makes sense that places where youth gather would be tobacco free, but there is no official policy to enforce this “park rule”. Currently, the Tobacco Free Partnership’s across the state are participating in a park survey to determine the official policy existence, park rule, or no existing language observing tobacco use at parks. The data being collected will express the self-regulation of the rules in place, and if policy is effective in these areas. Marion County is a diverse population, and thus far the results have been varied. More information on this data will be released once all the results have been charted.

Tobacco free environment policies and signage do far more than one might consider other than maintaining a healthy environment. They promote normalization of tobacco free environments, strengthen partnerships, and ensure air quality equity among visitors and participants. While it is important to tobacco users to have a provided friendly space to use tobacco, it is more important to provide clean air to those who need is most, including babies and youth, and those who are sensitive to allergens and smoke like the sick and the elderly. When designated tobacco or smoking areas are put into place, it takes away the clean air from the rest of the attendees, in addition to making those areas seem more normal to the most susceptible, youth. Smoke travels, as Dr. Barry Hummel CEO of QuitDoc Foundation says, “if you can smell it you’re breathing it”; so, best to just ask the tobacco users to self-regulate and not use tobacco while in public air spaces. The policies also help during clean up, for example, the Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers are responsible for all clean-up of the after-event liter. Coming from a former smoker, I know it is difficult to refrain smoking while enjoying the outdoors, but going without nicotine for the benefit of others is a management adjustment of only a couple of hours.


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 https://tfp-marion.org/ and http://facebook.com/TFPMarionCounty
Lauren Fischer · Tobacco Prevention Specialist · 352-359-5383 · LFischer@QuitDoc.com