FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new ordinance has been enacted in Fort Myers, imposing a comprehensive ban on smoking and vaping at all public parks within the city. The unanimous decision was made during a recent City Council meeting, and the prohibition is already in effect, impacting park-goers from this point forward.
The initiative, supported by local teens from Lee County Schools and driven by city leaders, aims to address concerns about the adverse effects of smoking and vaping, both on public health and the environment. The ban is fueled by worries about litter and the potential harm posed to children who frequent parks and could be exposed to secondhand smoke.
Liz Bello-Matthews, Communications & Public Affairs Director, emphasized the equal harm and addictiveness associated with smoking and vaping.
She shared, "When you look at the data, it's pretty much equally as harmful and equally as addicting. Those kids wanted to make sure that we set a precedent and included vape products in the ordinance."
Parents and concerned citizens expressed their approval of the ordinance, highlighting the importance of safeguarding the health of children who visit the parks.
Richard Rivera, a Fort Myers resident, stated, "I think it's a good idea because there's a lot of kids in parks, and you never know. Secondhand smoke is not really good for them."
However, not everyone agrees with the ban. Some individuals argued for the freedom to smoke outdoors. Despite this, it's worth noting that the ordinance allows for unfiltered cigarettes in parks, as they are deemed to have a lesser impact on the environment.
Looking ahead, the city plans to install signage across Fort Myers parks to inform the public about the new ban and the associated $100 civil citation for violations. This proactive approach aims to ensure widespread awareness and compliance with the regulations that have been put in place.