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Restaurants go smoke free in St. Johns County

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Updated: 7/30/2013 7:38 pm
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- More restaurants and businesses in St. Johns county are going smoke free.

The county's tobacco educators are pushing to eventually become completely smoke free.

While many people support this idea, others worry it will affect local businesses.

"It's recently referred to as the healthiest county in Florida." tobacco tobacco educator Mary Ann Steinberg said.

But tobacco educator Mary Ann Steinberg says in order to keep this title, she and other tobacco free partners throughout the county are pushing to reduce the number of smokers.

"Even though we are the healthiest county in Florida, statistics show that a portion of our population is vulnerable to the tactics of our tobacco industry." Steinberg said.

Tobacco Depot owner Mike Mounir says he knows over the years tobacco laws in Florida have become more restrictive -- and he's not surprised people are pushing others to quit smoking in the county he started his business in.

But he is worried if laws gets too strict, they really could affect his business.

"I think it will hurt the sales of tobacco, if you can't smoke, you're not going to buy it," Mounir said.

I've learned about 12 percent of the St. Johns County population uses tobacco, but that's a number Steinberg believes is too high.

"We want to educate people and let them know how tobacco affects our community," Steinberg said.

She says Flagler hospital offers classes to quit smoking, and that these classes allow people to see how much they are spending on tobacco products in an already tough economy.

"You could easily spend $2,000 to $3,000 a year," Steinberg said.

Mounir says the push to make St. John's county smoke free, won't necessarily hurt his business...unless something permanent happens.

"I don't think they actually are going to care ... unless they pass a ban or a law," Mounir said.

He says he thinks if businesses continue to go smoke free, people will still smoke, just not at the smoke free places .

Steinberg says they will soon be coming out with a pamphlet for St. Johns County that will tell locals where smoke free businesses are located.
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RiverRat - 7/31/2013 6:59 AM
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I thought restaurants were required to be smoke free.
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