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Smoking ban ignites debate

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

King's Manor residents are protesting the policy with a smoke-in today. The park manager says he's abiding by the law.

Residents of King's Manor Mobile Home Park say they have smoked in the community room during bingo and card games for years and don't want to give up the privilege. They say nobody complains, even participants who don't smoke.

But for park manager Jim Callahan, that's not the issue.

Smoking in the community room "is a violation of Florida's Indoor Clean Air Act," he said. "We have been in violation of that act since 1992."

Starting today, he's permanently banning smoking in the room, and the decision has some bingo-playing residents upset. To make their point, they plan to smoke cigarettes non-stop in what they're calling a "smoke-in."

"The smoking will start at 6 p.m. and the bingo at 7," said park resident Teresa Morgan, who will be on hand with a pack of Marlboro mediums. It will continue "as long as it takes to make management recognize that we are residents and we have rights."

Today's protest has even captured the support of non-smoking residents.

Carol Smet, for one, said she doesn't think management has the right to take away a privilege "without asking anybody." She said she will attend the smoke-in to support her neighbors.

"It should be democratically decided and not dictated to us," she said.

Callahan said he has sent every King's Manor resident a letter inviting them to come talk to him about the state law that requires that recreation halls be smoke-free unless a smoking area is designated.

Callahan doesn't plan to designate an area. Resident complaints have made it clear to him that the time had come to end smoking in the room.

King's Manor is a family park on S Belcher Road that has 332 occupied mobile homes. Some of the homes are privately owned. Others belong to the park and are leased.

This is not the first time King's Manor residents have protested a no-smoking rule. In 1994 after a smoke-in, a compromise was reached that allowed some smoking in the community room, including on bingo and card game nights. Smoking was outlawed at events where food was served and at meetings of the homeowners association. Smoking also was prohibited at activities during daytime hours.

Callahan said he put the no-smoking notices up last week and no one has complained to him about the new rule. He said he learned of the planned smoke-in from fliers some park residents were distributing.

"I wish they would come talk to me," he said.