Students Working Against Tobacco Commend Daytona International Speedway for Making Grandstands Smoke-free

Jeffrey Earnhardt and Andrew Gurtis

Jeffrey Earnhardt, left, and DIS Vice President Andrew Gurtis with an award presented to the "World Center of Racing" by the Students Working Against Tobacco.

DAYTONA, Fla. – Teens from across Northeast Florida came together today to recognize Daytona International Speedway for its bold move to make the speedway’s grandstands smoke-free. The teens from 21 surrounding counties are part of Students Working against Tobacco (SWAT). They also challenged other sporting and entertainment venues in the state to follow the example set by the speedway and protect more Floridians and visitors from secondhand smoke.

The SWAT members, along with NASCAR driver Jeffrey Earnhardt, the Volusia County Health Department, and representatives from Daytona International Speedway held a press conference outside of the Gate 7 Grandstand Entrance of the speedway on Tuesday, June 19 at 2 p.m.

“I’m proud that leading race organizations like Daytona are protecting our fans from tobacco smoke and are showing young fans that smoking is no longer acceptable,” said NASCAR driver and Tobacco Free Florida spokesperson Jeffrey Earnhardt. “Families see drivers and venues like Daytona as legendary and this sends a healthy message to race fans.” 

The grandstands of Florida’s prestigious and historic sporting venue will officially be smoke-free starting with the Subway Jalapeño 250 Powered By Coca-Cola NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday night, July 6.

Secondhand smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and 69 that can cause cancer.  Each year, nearly 50,000 non-smoking Americans die from a disease primarily caused from exposure to secondhand smoke. 

Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to children and adults who suffer from asthma as it can trigger a severe attack.  In Florida, 1.47 million children and adults are diagnosed with asthma.  

“Smoke-free policies that are being voluntarily adopted by businesses and organizations across the state are helping to save lives,” said Director of the Volusia County Health Department Dr. Bonnie Sorensen. “We should never underestimate the dangers of secondhand smoke. Breathing secondhand smoke, even in small amounts or when outside, can be harmful to your health.” 

Aside from protecting race fans and speedway employees from the dangers of secondhand smoke, the smoking ban at the Daytona International Speedway is a monumental step against tobacco in the sport of racing. Stock car racing has a long and storied history with tobacco that includes years of sponsorships and the highly visible use of tobacco by drivers, their racing teams and fans alike.

“We’re honoring Daytona International Speedway for taking this important step to protect race fans from secondhand smoke, said Kahreem Golden, SWAT Youth Advocacy Board Chair. “We also want to encourage other outdoor venues in Florida to protect their patrons by adopting tobacco-free and smoke-free policies.”

ABOUT SWAT
SWAT is a statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida’s youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. It is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future.

ABOUT TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA
Tobacco Free Florida is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund.  The program is managed by the Florida Department of Health, specifically the Bureau of Tobacco Prevention Program. 

Smokers and smokeless tobacco users interested in quitting are encouraged to call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach.  To learn about Tobacco Free Florida and the state’s free quit smoking resources, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla

The Florida Department of Health’s mission is to protect and promote the health of all residents and visitors in the state through organized state and community efforts, including cooperative agreements with counties. For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health’s website.

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