News and Events

Tobacco Free Events are Trending Up in Florida
May 30, 2017

Everyone knows there is no smoking allowed in most public buildings in Florida thanks to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA). This is a great thing for the more than 80% of us to do not smoke or use other forms of tobacco because we are protected from breathing secondhand smoke in places like malls, restaurants, and theaters. Thanks to our FCIAA, our children will never have the experience of having to choose a “smoking” or “non-smoking” area in a restaurant, or be exposed to cigarette smoke in almost any public indoor environment the way that we did when we were children. However, while the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act restricts smoking in most public indoor spaces, it does not allow municipalities or counties to create outdoor clean air policies such as beaches or parks due to a provision in the law called preemption which only allows state lawmakers to create such policies.

Floridians are becoming increasingly tobacco free, as even the youth cigarette smoking rate is lower than most states in the county. As a result of individuals and families wanting tobacco free outdoor entertainment, there is an exciting trend happening at North Central Florida – tobacco free festivals and events.  Event and festival tobacco free policies are completely allowed as the FCIAA only preempts a municipal or county ordinance regarding clean outdoor air. Therefore, many local community festivals and observances are going tobacco free!

One of the first festivals in North Central Florida to go tobacco free was the Cross City Fly-In and Business Expo in Dixie County in 2016.  The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County partnered with the Dixie Chamber of Commerce to create a tobacco free event policy. The Cross City Fly-In and Business Expo is a yearly event that is sponsored by the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of creating a tobacco free festival was to provide those who attended or worked at the event with a safe and healthy environment.  In 2017, the event was not only tobacco free, but e-cigarette use was included in the policy, making this a truly ground breaking festival in protecting the health of the community by eliminating any exposure to tobacco, secondhand smoke or secondhand vapor.  The Dixie County Chamber of Commerce estimates that approximately 3,000 people attended the Fly-In this year, giving it a large impact in the community by supporting tobacco free social norms.

Levy County is also trending toward tobacco free festivals, including one popular yearly Cedar Key event, the Cedar Key Arts Festival, which partnered with the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy to officially create a tobacco and e-cigarette free festival in 2017.  This year, the festival included tobacco free zones and designated tobacco and electronic vapor use areas away from places where people gather. The Cedar Key Arts Festival celebrated its 53rd year in 2017 and has is the oldest art festival in the State of Florida. It has also been named as one of the top 10 juried arts festivals in the United States. Each year, there are around 20,000 visitors to Cedar Key during the festival. Creating an event where tens of thousands of people can enjoy art, nature, and Old Florida without breathing secondhand smoke, is truly making a family friendly environment for everyone in attendance.

Yet another festival in North Central Florida, the Olustee Festival, has created a tobacco free Kidz Zone for a family friendly experience in 2017. The Olustee Festival is a three-day event that includes parades, battle re-enactments, a 5K and a fun run, a beauty pageant, arts and craft festival, musical entertainment, and a Kidz Zone which is an entertainment area just for kids. The Olustee Festival is one of the top 10 events in the Southeast, and brings in between 25,000-30,000 visitors each year. Thanks to the partnership between the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia and the Olustee Festival, thousands of families enjoyed a healthy, tobacco free environment this year while attending the Kidz Zone festivities.

The harms of secondhand smoke have been known for many years. According to the Centers for Disease Control, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and even stroke among non-smokers who breath it. In children, it can cause ear infections, more frequent asthma problems, and respiratory problems (like infections).  There are also environmental factors to consider with tobacco waste being the number one source of litter on planet Earth. These are some great reasons that festivals in our beautiful region of the state have decided to create tobacco free policies. It makes good sense to protect the health of our friends, family, and community members as well as protecting the environment we treasure from being polluted with waste. Let’s look forward to more fairs, festivals and community events taking the proactive step to also be tobacco free!