Breathe Free Winter Park

Imagine dining outside at your favorite local restaurant. You’re enjoying a delicious meal with family or friends. Conversation is flowing, the food is outstanding and then suddenly, you get a whiff of cigarette smoke. Instantly, the moment is ruined.

Outback PhotoDid you know that only 10% of Winter park residents smoke and less than 8% smoke every day? Yet most restaurants cater to smokers by allowing smoking on patios. Everyone knows that secondhand smoke is unhealthy – triggering asthma attacks, migraines or sinus problems. There are cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke and according to a 2006 Surgeon General’s Report there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke. It is one reason why outdoor cafés have 5-20 times the pollution as sidewalks.

So what can you do about it? Well, if you like fresh air with your mouth-watering meal, you’re going to love a new effort from Healthy Central Florida (HCF), “Breathe Free Winter Park” (BFWP). HCF partnered with the American Lung Association, Rollins College, the Winter Park Chamber and others to develop this community-based initiative.

BFWP is a new, all-voluntary collaboration of residents, community organizations, restaurants and others to encourage restaurant owners and managers to consider becoming totally smoke-free – inside and out. BFWP is providing materials and planning assistance to help take local establishments from smoky to smoke-free. If restaurants choose not to participate, there are no penalties. They may just miss out on a great marketing strategy for the vast majority of their non-smoking customers – fully 90%!

If you like the idea of smoke-free outdoor dining, here’s what you can do. Please, very politely, speak up. Let a restaurant manager know that you love their food and their restaurant, but you’d love the experience even more if it was smoke-free – especially during these glorious months with cooler, drier weather.   If non-smokers don’t speak up, restaurant managers don’t know. But always do it politely and patiently, especially if they are busy.

Being part of BFWP means that we’re in this together — all part of a larger health movement taking place in our community. We can lead the region in taking the next step toward better health – by having healthy air everywhere. Like and follow us on Facebook or check back to for the latest updates on Breathe Free Winter Park. And please, share news of your favorite smoke-free restaurant!