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Winter Park to ask restaurants to fully ban smoking as part of ‘Breathe Free’ initiative

About 20 restaurants now host smoke-free patios, and more to come as ‘Breathe Free Winter Park’ encourages restaurants to join the movement.

Join leaders from Winter Park’s health and business communities as they announce “Breathe Free Winter Park,” a voluntary initiative aimed at eliminating smoking on all restaurant patios within the city.

Owners and managers of 20 restaurants, including Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, Outback Steakhouse and 4 Rivers Smokehouse, offer smoke-free patios, as celebrated by the Breathe Free program.

“We want to stress that this program is entirely voluntary,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, executive director of Healthy Central Florida. “We’re simply making restaurant owners/managers aware of how few people actually smoke, and helping them go smoke-free if they choose to do so. And, we’re offering full support for the transition if they sign on, including providing a toolkit, signage, advertising and promotion and even staff training.”

Individuals, not just restaurants, also have a role to play.

“Anyone who prefers a smoke-free patio is encouraged to speak up and let restaurant owners/managers know they would prefer to dine smoke free,” added Hamilton Buss. “If they don’t hear from you, they don’t know.”

The citywide movement is the first of its kind in Central Florida, is designed to foster wellness, and be one more step in Winter Park’s journey to become the healthiest city in the nation.

Healthy Central Florida, the Winter Park Health Foundation, Florida Hospital and the American Lung Association in Florida, in partnership with Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, are sponsoring the launch of Breathe Free Winter Park.

While smoking is banned inside Florida restaurants, diners are legally permitted to smoke on restaurant patios. No amount of secondhand smoke is healthy, and can trigger asthma attacks, headaches, sinus issues and more.

The Breathe Free initiative encourages all restaurant owners to consider going smoke-free for a healthier Winter Park. It also encourages all residents to speak up and let restaurant management know that they prefer smoke-free dining.


WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, April 27

WHERE: Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen
118 S. Park Ave., 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.”

“Did 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!”

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