What’s on the Horizon for Tobacco Free Parks in Marion County?

September 12, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) of Marion county is gearing up for the new fiscal year, starting with the Legislative Delegation that took place on September 10. The partnership was represented by a youth member of the local Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT); which is detailed in the corresponding SWAT article.

The main focus for this year’s delegation session and for the TFP is currently on parks and the use of traditional and electronic cigarettes in areas where children and families play and gather. For months the community members have voiced their opinions at the City Council meetings, with the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series being the vehicle.

The City of Ocala is in a position that is shared among every municipality in the State of Florida which is outlined in the Florida Clean Indoor Act and the Florida Statues which states that the law, “expressly preempts regulation of smoking to the state and supersedes any municipal or county ordinance on the subject.” Basically, Florida law overrides local laws, and that local government may not enforce policies that are more strict than the state laws. Presently, Florida law prohibits the use of smoking indoors only; not outside spaces. This isn’t to say that municipalities are shrugging it off and falling in line. In fact, many successfully continue to create policies that prohibit smoking in outdoor and public places, including parks.

In Marion County, the TFP has partnered with several organizations who are concerned with the issue of smoking and vaping in public places; especially where children gather. One of its partners, the Marion County Children’s Alliance (MCCA), is the organization who leads Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). This group of youth has partnered with SWAT to tackle smoking and vaping in the parks head on. They continue to participate in several park clean ups throughout the year, create petitions, and educate their peers. Read More