In April 2014, we launched Breathe Free Winter Park, a movement to encourage restaurants to voluntarily offer smoke-free patios and to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke in all shared spaces. To date, nearly 50 restaurants are helping customers Breathe Free.
We’ve come a long way… At the height of American’s love affair with cigarettes, nearly 50% of our country puffed a Pal Mall, Marlboro or Winston. People smoked in hospitals, schools, workplaces and yes, airplanes. (Young people who never experienced this are gasping.) What!!!???? It’s true. People smoked…everywhere. It was awful if you didn’t smoke.
Today, the rate of smoking has steadily declined and is currently about 15% nationwide. In Maitland, it’s less than half that at 7.3% and in Winter Park, it’s just 10.3%. We think BFWP, a community collaboration of restaurants, business leaders and community activists is both a catalyst and a beneficiary of this positive trend in our communities.
To date, 41 restaurants and bars are voluntarily offering smoke-free air. These include Ravenous Pig, Dexter’s of Winter Park, Outback Steakhouse, Barnie’s, Boshphorous, Cocina 214, 4 Rivers, Panera Bread, Paris Bistro and many, many more.
Even restaurants that haven’t opened yet, are getting the message and planning to open smoke-free. “Create Your Nature” on Orange Avenue, a healthy concept that opens this fall, will open smoke-free.
The effort is moving into Maitland too. When the new restaurant concept opens from the owners of Prato and Luma (old “So Napa”location/ across from Antonio’s), it will also open smoke-free.
Additionally, Antonio’s, Jeremiah’s, Haagen Dazs, The Coop and Marlow’s Tavern are also on board. The movement is growing and gaining support because people know there is no amount of safe exposure to second-hand smoke – and quite simply, smoke stinks. If you’re smelling it, you’re breathing it.
BFWP doesn’t just focus on restaurants, but on all shared or public spaces – parks, campuses, workplaces and apartment complexes too. Did you know? Buildings are designed to breathe so mold won’t grow. Therefore, smoke can travel through electrical outlets, under baseboards and through vents between apartments. If you live next door to a smoker in an apartment, chances are you and your children are breathing their second-hand smoke.
That’s why we encouraged and applauded the move of the Winter Park Housing Authority, which operates five lower income multi-unit housing complexes, when they decided to go totally smoke-free. As of December 31 this year, all of their complexes will be fully smoke-free! Kudos to their board and leadership.
Across the nation many municipalities and even states are seeking bans on smoking in public spaces. Locally our effort is entirely voluntary.
So, if you dislike smoke and don’t want you or your children breathing it, here’s what you can do. When someone lights up, speak up. Politely let the management know. Otherwise, they’ll never know and will carry on business as usual. And let us know if we missed any restaurants that are smoke-free. And if you are a restaurant and want to learn more or join the movement, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer signage, help with the transition and promotional support including paid advertising.