Winter Park restaurants continue push to go smoke free

Restaurants ban smoking

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  • | 6:33 a.m. December 17, 2015
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Smokers may have to look elsewhere to eat with more restaurants along Park Avenue joining a pledge to ban patio smoking.
Photo by: Isaac Babcock - Smokers may have to look elsewhere to eat with more restaurants along Park Avenue joining a pledge to ban patio smoking.
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A smoke-free movement is growing among Winter Park restaurants.

Local eateries Umi and Marlow’s Tavern in Winter Park have recently joined Breathe Free Winter Park, a movement started by Healthy Central Florida that encourages restaurants to ban smoking inside and outside their eating establishments.

The movement was kicked off last April and has continued to grow since then, said Jill Hamilton Buss, executive director of Healthy Central Florida.

“The general goal is to encourage all restaurants to consider going smoke-free,” Hamilton Buss said. “It’s a voluntary movement and it’s at the discretion of the restaurant.”

“Certainly smoke and great food don’t go together, but in the end it’s their decision – we’re just there to help them if they decide to go smoke-free.”

Today, 32 Winter Park restaurants have pledged their support to the movement, including Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Cocina 214, The Ravenous Pig and Winter Park Fish Co.

Umi Assistant Manager Sam Lee said joining the movement was a simple choice.

“It seems like a lot of people are cutting down on smoking,” Lee said.

“…It’s a great movement toward eliminating smoking. It’s not good for the environment and people’s health especially.”

“We chose to be smoke free because ultimately it’s our position to make all the guests comfortable no matter what,” said Alexa Pena, a manager at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, in a video showing support for the Breathe Free Winter Park movement.

“There are a lot of people out there that are really concerned with their health and they would choose a smoke-free environment any day. I do believe it’s something a lot of other restaurants should get involved with.”

Studies continue to prove the harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke. A 2006 report from the Surgeon General concluded that there is “no safe amount of secondhand smoke” and that “breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.” The same report ties secondhand smoke to heart disease and lung cancer.

A 2014 study conducted by the University of Central Florida shows that only 10 percent of Winter Park residents smoke and that only 7 percent of Maitland residents smoke. To conduct the survey, UCF used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a premier health-related phone survey also used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The vast, vast majority of local restaurant goers are non-smokers,” Hamilton Buss said.

“We encourage our residents to be part of the solution. I think for a long time non-smokers have just sort of silently suffered. They grouch to their dining partner or they get up and move inside on a beautiful evening and leave the best seat in the house to the smokers. On a gorgeous evening, who doesn’t want to be outside enjoying the fresh air?”

Hamilton Buss said the movement is continuing to reach out to local restaurants about going smoke-free.