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Smoke-Free Parks for Gilchrist County?
March 10, 2023

Gilchrist County is the home to many beautiful parks and springs frequented by residents and visitors from all around the country annually. Residents of Gilchrist are truly blessed to have the opportunity of experiencing some of Florida’s most prized natural ecosystems right in their backyard. With this blessing though comes great responsibility; the responsibility to assure they are kept clean and safe for our residents and our visitors.

For the first time it is possible to keep this assurance for future visitors. When the Florida Clean Air Act was updated this summer it gave the ability to local government municipalities to introduce new rules to keep the fresh air once can enjoy at parks by making them smoke-free. Many cities throughout Florida have already implemented smoke-free policies at their parks and beaches to reduce the exposure of toxic second-hand smoke to visitors as well as decreasing the litter that comes along with smoking. This could also benefit our community if we updated Gilchrist’s local law on tobacco use in public parks. Disposable vapes, pods, and cigarette butts, can all leach toxic materials into the ground that could lead to poisoning of local wildlife and ecosystems. Besides keeping our local parks clean and safe for animals that call those places home, a smoke-free park policy would also encourage Gilchrist County residents for a more active healthy outdoor lifestyles in our outdoor community places. Placing a future model for our young people to enjoy and set positive health behaviors from a young age.

With policy implementation, awareness, and education we can help improve the future health of our youth and residents; on top of keeping our local ecosystems healthy. Passing a local ordinance in Gilchrist County prohibiting the use of tobacco products at our parks would be a huge step forward for our little community.