|(Copyright 2004 by The Orlando Sentinel)
Rebecca Panoff can be reached at
email@example.com or 407- 931-5951.
ST. CLOUD -- Continuing efforts to snuff out
smoking, the "Friendly Soldier City" is attacking on another front:
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
"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 Smokefree America 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.
|PHOTO: Simon Parlier and Bryn Sturgill
battle for a ball during a soccer game at Stephanie Leigh
Rothstein Memorial Park. ED SACKETT/ORLANDO