Breathe Free Winter Park Focuses on Smoke-Free Restaurant Patios

no smoking on patio signIn the belief dinner on a restaurant patio should be served with a healthy side of clean, fresh air, Healthy Central Florida (HCF) is helping launch a campaign to encourage local restaurants to voluntarily make their patios smoke-free.

HCF is a community-based initiative, founded by Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), to help make local communities—beginning with Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville—the healthiest in the nation. Work in each community is guided by a team of leaders charged with selecting healthy goals.

The Healthy Winter Park team chose as one of its goals to reduce the number of outdoor smoke-free places and chose to work on increasing the number of smoke-free restaurant patios, a strategy showing promise in other communities, said Jill Hamilton Buss, HCF Executive Director.

As a result, HCF teamed up with the American Lung Association. HCF and WPHF provided a $10,000 grant to the ALA to develop its Breathe Free Winter Park (BFWP) campaign.

The campaign will build on the already low rate of smoking in Winter Park, just 10.3% according to a study by UCF, commissioned by HCF, said Hamilton Buss. To help restaurants make the transition to smoke-free, HCF and the ALA also have developed a tool kit with timelines, talking points and marketing materials.

Smoke-free patio policies already are in place in some local restaurants, including the Outback Steakhouse and Jimmy Hula’s on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park. These and other restaurants with the policy are highlighted on the Breathe Free Winter Park Facebook Page.

In addition, plans call for the creation and publication of a directory listing of area restaurants offering smoke-free patios.

HCF and ALA are in the process of reaching out to individual restaurants to introduce the BFWP campaign, but Ms. Hamilton Buss said consumers can also help.

She suggests interested consumers:

  • “Like us” on the BFWP Facebook page to learn about smoke-free restaurants and to share news about restaurants to add to the growing list.
  • Post information about restaurants that offer smoke-free dining on the BFWP Facebook page. “We want to promote and support those that already are smoke-free,” she said.
  • When consumers post news about a new restaurant not already highlighted on the BFWP page, they will be automatically entered to win a $25 dining gift card to the restaurant of their choice with a smoke-free patio. (Drawings will be held every other month beginning in January 2015.) “Please post a picture of their no-smoking sign or notice on a menu, door or table tent,” Ms. Buss said.  “Tell us the address and anything about them so we can find them and show them our support.”

But one of the most effective things consumers can do is to politely speak up and tell their restaurants they would like a smoke-free patio, said Ms. Hamilton Buss. “If restaurant owners don’t know consumers are opposed to smoking, they are less likely to make a change.”