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Punta Gorda City Council could ban vaping at some city parks

Smoking Punta Gorda
Posted at 4:28 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 20:20:25-04

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — The City of Punta Gorda could potentially ban vaping at several parks across the area.

Currently, smoking is banned at the Gilchrist Park playground, Laishley Park's interactive fountain, Cooper Street Recreation Center and the Ponce de Leon playground. The proposed ordinance would make vaping illegal at these same areas.

"It’s definitely something that should be away from people," said Yolanda Clinton, who agrees with a ban. "It’s kind of annoying because the smoke bellows out."

She takes her grandson to Gilchrist Park sometimes, and said she does not want him around someone who is vaping.

"I certainly wouldn’t want him at 5 years old to see someone vaping and then be curious about this candy-flavored smell," she explained.

The organization, Drug-Free Punta Gorda, says it wants city council to make the ordinance consistent with the Charlotte County ordinance, which would make vaping illegal.

On Wednesday, city council members heard the proposed ordinance change for the first time. A decision cannot be made yet as the ordinance still needs to go through a second reading.

"I think vaping is a fad with the youth," said Brad Fountain, who takes his great grandson to Gilchrist Park. "I think the smell kinda pulls them [teens] in."

According to the American Thoracic Society, second-hand smoke from vaping can be inhaled and contain toxic substances such as heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals.

It's a reality that hits close to home for Fountain, who used to smoke.

"If I had to do it over again I would've never started," he said.

It's a habit Clinton doesn't want her grandson to see by having them at parks.

"You’re introducing them to vaping," she explained. "They smell it, they see it. They’re curious, they want to know what it’s all about."

The second reading for the ordinance change could happen at the next meeting on June 21. If it passes, it would take effect immediately.