News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is Working on Several Tobacco Prevention Policies
March 7, 2021

We welcomed 2021 with a great outlook and a continuance of educating our community leaders and members about the goals and initiatives of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County.

The partnership had the pleasure of speaking to Senator Jennifer Bradley at the Columbia County Legislation Delegation Meeting on January 19th. This provided an opportunity to inform the Senator about our Community-Based Tobacco Prevention program. Through the Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) clubs, we work with our community to promote nicotine-free social norms through advocacy, education, and policy change to prevent the usage of tobacco products by youth and young adults.

Throughout the 5 years our program has been in Columbia County, we have seen a significant decrease in current use of cigarette and smokeless tobacco use among youth and raised awareness of the marketing tactics of tobacco companies that target youth with candy flavored products. We will continue our work to support changes that will protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction through a local Tobacco Retail License. This includes raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 at the local level, banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, classifying vaping products as tobacco products, and providing compliance checks with enforcement.

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Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Continues to Share Its Prevention Message
February 28, 2021

This quarter, our Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) club members continued their advocacy efforts in the schools and community. We would like to recognize one member in particular, our Ft. White High School SWAT President, Gabby Griffis for her dedication to educating her peers and community decision makers about the dangers of all tobacco products, specifically smokeless tobacco.

  On February 18th, Gabby spoke to the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners about a public awareness campaign observed February 21-27, “Through With Chew Week” that focuses on encouraging smokeless tobacco users to set a date to quit. Her speech talked about the impacts smokeless tobacco has on a rural community, with these populations having higher rates of preventable diseases and youth experimental use beginning at an earlier age. She went on to mention that these products have higher amounts of nicotine than cigarettes which alone can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, narrowing and hardening of the arteries that lead to heart attacks and strokes. Gabby has shared her knowledge of the health effects from chemicals and nicotine found in tobacco and her personal stories of how tobacco has affected her life in hopes of preventing future generations from becoming addicted.    

SWAT clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy (RSGA), Lake City Middle School and Fort White High School and Middle School are always working hard to raise awareness of current tobacco issues among youth and inviting new members to join their fight against Big Tobacco.

Although the focus this month is on reducing the use of smokeless tobacco, SWAT members are encouraging their peers to be their own health advocate and learn about how all tobacco products affect their bodies and brain, whether that be cigarettes, dip, cigars, or e-cigarettes. Read More

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The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia Reflects on a Successful Year Despite COVID-19
December 7, 2020

As we come to the end of 2020, we can reflect on the activities and efforts of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County. Amidst the pandemic, the partnership was still able to meet and continue working towards our goals of meeting with decision makers and community members to educate them on the benefits of a local Tobacco Retail License (TRL). At the local level, a TRL would greatly benefit the youth in our community by reducing youth access and exposure to all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and other vaping devices by raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 years and banning flavored tobacco products which are proven to appeal to youth. On December 7th, the partnership spoke to the City Council during their regular session to educate them on a TRL and propose that they consider implementing an ordinance that would raise the age to sell tobacco to 21 within the city limits with local enforcement. The partnership will continue their efforts to raise the minimum age and to obtain a TRL. To learn more about a TRL, visit: American Heart Association.

The partnership was able to safely participate in three events this quarter in Lake City. As additional activities to garner support and awareness of the partnership and our efforts in tobacco prevention, we participated in the Trunk or Treat event at Christ Central that had many youth and parents in attendance and was Spooktacular. In downtown Lake City at Darby Pavilion, we attended the Columbia World’s Greatest Baby Shower drive-thru event that provided women who were pregnant or mothers to infants with educational materials, resources, and giveaways.

We were also excited to host a table at the Florida Gateway Fair this year that was a productive outreach location to share information about the Tobacco Retail License, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) activities, education on e-cigarettes, dangers of tobacco, and supporting tobacco cessation. Read More

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Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs Celebrate Not a Lab Rat Day!
October 21, 2020

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County (TFP) and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, Lake City Middle School and Fort White High School started this school year off by welcoming new members to each club and learning about the mission and values of the Florida SWAT organization. SWAT is youth organization that empowers youth ages 11-17 to utilize leadership and advocacy skills to de-glamorize the tobacco industry and their manipulative advertising toward youth. They promote policy change, engage in anti-tobacco activities and work towards a tobacco free future.

SWAT members were able to take action during the third annual Not A Lab Rat Day (NALR) observance on October 21st to educate about the dangers of disposable e-cigarettes and marketing efforts toward youth. This day allows youth to stand up and declare that they refuse to be Big Tobacco’s “lab rats” until we learn about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. The Richardson Sixth Grade Academy (RSGA) SWAT club observed the annual Not A Lab Rat Day initiative. RSGA SWAT members were highly creative with their ideas to raise awareness of this issue. They hosted a trivia game show to students in the school cafeteria and auditorium before school to get them engaged and to educate them on the facts of flavored e-cigarettes. Students in attendance volunteered to be contestants for a true or false game, all students were encouraged to answer the questions as they were being asked. The overall attendance for this observance was over 150 students and Not A Lab Rat selfie cards were handed out to increase awareness and allow them to list things they would do instead of being the Tobacco companies’ lab rat. RSGA SWAT members also hosted a pumpkin decorating contest. The contest included designing a pumpkin with anti-tobacco messaging.

Lake City Middle School SWAT club also observed NALR Day. SWAT members planned for this observance by designing posters with facts about e-cigarettes and how youth are being targeted by tobacco companies. They hung them throughout the school and designed a classroom door with messaging. SWAT members also shared NALR messages during the morning announcements school wide about e-cigarettes and how the vapor is not harmless but includes harmful substances, including nicotine. Overall, NALR Day was a great success at both schools and they continued their efforts throughout Red Ribbon Week that creates awareness around standing up against drug use, which includes tobacco. Read More

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Meet Cecile Gomez, SWAT Advisor at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy
September 10, 2020

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is a statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. SWAT is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future.

In Columbia County, we have active clubs throughout middle and high school that are working hard to educate other students about the manipulative tobacco companies and dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. We also have great advisors that lead and support these excellent students in their efforts. We would like to feature an enthusiastic advisor and thank her for her hard work leading our youth.

  "My name is Cecile Gomez. I received my bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Jacksonville University. I teach PE at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy. This will be my second year as a SWAT advisor. Last year we had over 30 members and I enjoyed learning together about the tobacco industries. I say we learned “together” because we truly did just that. I have never used tobacco, so to be honest I was not all familiar with it.    

"Prepping for each meeting that we had, as well as events SWAT hosted, I learned so much and realized how important it is for not only youth, but adults to know how harmful Tobacco can be! My favorite part of being a teacher is watching the “light bulb” go off.  For some, this takes time, but whether it is in my class, in a different subject area, or even in SWAT club the reward of a student mastering a concept is the best part of what I do." Read More

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The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is Making Plans for the 2020-2021 Year!
September 4, 2020

As of June 18, 2020, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County has a new leadership and she is ready to hit the ground running and to take on new challenges. As before, the partnership and its community members are constantly working towards reducing youth access and exposure to tobacco products, this includes all tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping devices. Our mission is supported by the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida and we are striving to promote tobacco free social norms, reduce or eliminate initiation of youth tobacco use, establish policy change, and support tobacco cessation.

The partnership met recently for the first time since the new tobacco prevention specialist took over leadership. We discussed the plans for the upcoming fiscal year along with updating bylaws and electing the Advisory Council. As a partnership there was discussion about upcoming plans and focus was put on outreach and creation of more tobacco free events and the county fairgrounds locally. Our goals and priorities this year will be to engage and educate new partners and decision makers about the importance of Tobacco Retail Licensing at the local level and engaging with new worksites and local parks for tobacco policy change. Also discussed was a push for providing more education on e-cigarettes and support for parents, students, and community members.

The partnership is involved in community events such as World’s Greatest Baby Shower, Trunk or Treat, Columbia County Fair, Olustee Festival, and Tobacco Free Florida Week to engage and educate about the dangers of vaping and the creation of new policies to reduce point of sale marketing toward youth. Read More

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Big Changes for QuitDoc in Columbia County!
June 15, 2020

The QuitDoc Foundation and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County are sad to announce the departure of Joey O’Hern as our local Community Health Advocate.

Joey has been with the QuitDoc Foundation since 2012 and took over the Tobacco Prevention Program in Columbia County in 2015.  Since that then he has become a fixture in the local community.  Joey was recently offered a leadership role at the Lake City – Columbia County Chamber of Commerce… a job offer that he couldn’t refuse!  We will miss him very much and we wish him all the best as he takes on his new challenge!

However, our tobacco prevention efforts in Columbia County will continue uninterrupted, as we are pleased to welcome Brooke Frye as our new Community Health Advocate in Clay County. 

Brooke is a lifelong resident of Lake City and enjoys being a part of the community. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida and has worked in health-related fields for over 21 years. Most recently, Brooke served as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist and Health Educator with Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Read More

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Columbia County Used World No Tobacco Day to Focus on the Issue of Point-of-Sale Advertising that Targets Kids
May 31, 2020

On May 31st each year there is a worldwide observation called World No Tobacco Day. This year, the message focuses on tobacco and nicotine marketing that is geared to kids and young people at retail locations.

E-cigarette use has exploded among Florida youth. Research indicates that advertising influences youth to try products. As Counter Tobacco, a policy resource organization says, ads build relationships with potential customers. Go to a local convenience store and look around. Are ads for candy or sweet items near e-cigarette/tobacco products or their advertisements? Are tobacco and e-cigarette advertisements waist high or lower on the entry doors? Are any tobacco products or e-cigarettes placed on the counter (even in clear cases), or near things that kids would buy? The chances are very high that you will answer “yes” to one or more of these questions. Whose attention do you think these types of advertisements are meant to attract?

If there is one thing that we have learned from tobacco company internal memos it is that they have their eyes on our youth as their next group of customers. When Congress gained access to internal tobacco company memos, we found out for sure that added flavors like cherry and honey, colors, and even branding were all geared to attract the attention of kids. Research shows us that kids are influenced by tobacco advertising. This makes sense. Why would tobacco companies spend $1,000,000 per day on something that has no impact? That would be an enormous waste of money. What the research reveals is that students who attend schools in neighborhoods with a higher density of tobacco retailers have more risk of becoming smokers (Henrickson, et al., 2008). A new study of at-risk youth susceptibility to tobacco advertising further shows that these students had a higher risk of smoking e-cigarettes, cigarettes and cigars. They also had a higher risk of using smokeless tobacco. This study concluded that advertising at the point of sale actually had an influence on the use of alternative tobacco products (like e-cigarettes) among at-risk youth (Beleva, et al., 2018). Read More

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Tobacco Free Events Prove Beneficial To Community!
March 9, 2020

Tobacco Free Events provide endless benefits to community members by allowing them to enjoy an event with the worry of being exposed to secondhand smoke or vapor, providing an environment that shows youth, tobacco use is not the norm, and by supporting those that have made the difficult decision to quit the use of tobacco.  Tobacco is the number preventable cause of death and disease and Tobacco Free Events send a very important message that the community’s health and well-being are a priority.  Together, we can reduce the toll of tobacco on our community through Tobacco Free Events.

For the past few years, creating a safer environment by pushing for more tobacco-free events in Highlands County has been at the forefront of our focus. In fact, the Tobacco Free Partnership worked with numerous community events to increase the amount of tobacco free events in the area. Those events include but are not limited to the Gateway To Freedom Human Trafficking Symposium, Olustee Festival, numerous health and wellness fairs, Chamber of Commerce events and more.

 “The reach of these tobacco free event policies are incredible and are received with positivity,” said Joseph O’Hern, Community Health Advocate for QuitDoc Foundation. “Not only does it benefit thousands of people that attend these events, it is also a great way to showcase the value tobacco free event and venue policies, ultimately encouraging other organizations and venues to follow suit.” Read More

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Local Efforts During "Through With Chew Week"
February 22, 2020

During this year's Through With Chew Week (February 16-22), Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth took the opportunity to encourage smokeless tobacco users to set a quit date while also educating their peers one on one. Each year, Through With Chew Week raises awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use (chew, dip and snus) and the effective tools available to quit.

 

The Tobacco Free Partnership partnered with local SWAT youth to provide information on the dangers of smokeless tobacco to community members at local community events in addition to conducting community presentations regarding the dangers and use of smokeless tobacco use in their respective schools.

Students at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy took the opportunity to inform their peers about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and educate them on the cancer cause chemicals found in a can of chew as well as side effects of use such as gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancel. Students were then able to win a prize after being educated one on one about the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

For more information on the work of the local SWAT Chapter in Columbia County, contact Joey O’Hern at JOhern@QuitDoc.com.

   

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The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
November 21, 2019
By Tracy DeCubellis and Joey O'Hern

It is no secret that tobacco use is harmful. Despite our knowledge of the multitude of carcinogens and toxins in tobacco, people still use it during work hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use in the workplace accounts for the most lost worker productivity compared to other causes such as family emergencies or alcohol abuse (1).

Tobacco use and recreational nicotine use via e-cigarettes at work can cost employers money. The loss of productivity for a business with smokers is estimated to cost $4,056 in productivity and $2,056 in medical costs per year (2). Additionally, it wasn’t until recently that unless an employer created a tobacco-free policy for the workplace that includes e-cigarettes and vapor products, employees may be able to use their recreational nicotine devices at work. However with the passing of Prop 9 in the State of Florida, ENDS use is now tied to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.

Businesses that create tobacco-free campus policies protect the health and wellbeing of employees. This type of campus wide policy may encourage employees who use tobacco to quit the habit, especially if the campus tobacco-free policy includes cessation help for those who currently use tobacco or recreational nicotine products like e-cigarettes. This is important because statewide, of the 15.8% of adults who currently smoke, 64.9% of them have tried to stop in the last year (3). Read More

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Columbia County Youth Pledge to Not Be Lab Rats!
October 16, 2019

The second annual Not A Lab Rat Day took place on Oct. 16 and this year, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) wanted other teens to know that when it to comes to e-cigarettes, aka “vaping” products, history is repeating itself!

E-cigarette companies use the same tricks, including flavors and marketing campaigns, tobacco companies used for decades to target and recruit young smokers. Not a surprise considering Big Tobacco companies own or have significantly invested in e-cigarette companies. These are the same tobacco companies that for decades lied about the addictiveness and health effects of cigarettes.

 

SWAT clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, Lake City Middle School, Fort White High School and Fort White Middle School all took part in an anti-vaping pledging campaign where they had over 1,000 Columbia County students sign pledge cards refusing to be a lab rat and refusing to ever vape!

Richardson Sixth Grade Academy SWAT Sponsor Cecile Gomez commented, “Vaping is an important issue, especially for our youth as they are targeted by big tobacco companies. Educating this young group is a priority as those who use e-cigarettes are four times more like to starting smoke cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.” Read More

   

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County Prepares for a Very Productive Year!
September 9, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County, a coalition of community members focused on the prevention of tobacco use, has signed its bylaws, elected the 2019-2020 Advisory Council, and made plans for the upcoming year.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is dedicated to the creation of tobacco-free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy and changes in local tobacco policies. The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County reflects the goals of the CDC’s Best Practices, especially in regards to changes in local tobacco policies to create and promote tobacco-free social norms.

Currently the partnership focuses on counteracting tobacco marketing at the point of sale, tobacco free worksite policies, reducing tobacco use in rural communities and Students Working Against Tobacco clubs for middle and high schools throughout Columbia County.

     

There are multiple goals that the Partnership has identified as a priority for this fiscal year. Tobacco Retail Licensing is one of the main focuses this year and the plan is to continue to build support and capacity for the Point of Sale task force committee. Engaging community members through presentations, finding out what key community stakeholders feel about tobacco retail licensing and revisiting the strategy plan are all key when it comes to attaining tobacco retail licensing in Columbia County. Read More

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Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs in Columbia County are Ready for a Great Year!
August 9, 2019

At the start of the 2019-2020 school year Columbia County “Students Working Against Tobacco” is back and stronger than ever!

For the first in two years, clubs have been reestablished in the south end of the county at both Fort White High School and Fort White Junior High. Clubs are also established at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy and Lake City Middle School.

Joseph O’Hern the Columbia County Community Health Advocate with the QuitDoc Foundation said, “I am thrilled to see clubs at the majority of our eligible schools. I truly believe this year is going to be a monumental year for not only Students Working Against Tobacco but tobacco prevention in Columbia County as a whole.” O’Hern went on to say that “having clubs throughout the county is really crucial to not only fighting back against Big Tobacco and the epidemic of vaping but also to help keep Columbia County a leader in tobacco prevention. By the end of this month we hope to have a Students Working Against Tobacco club established at Columbia High making all five eligible schools ones with clubs in them. We’ve got some fantastic sponsors and great youth this year so watch out!”

Much like the Tobacco Free Partnership and the Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Program as a whole, Students Working Against Tobacco plans to place a lot of emphasis on combatting vaping and ENDs use throughout Columbia County. Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership: The Year in Review
June 18, 2019

The 2018-2019 fiscal year proved to be one of many successes for the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County, with tobacco free policies being gained throughout the community!

As the fiscal year kicked off, the Tobacco Free Partnership was still working closely with the Columbia County Public Housing Authority who recently implemented their smoke free housing policy. Tobacco Prevention Staff were able to not only help draft that policy, but also assist in the implementation of it as well as the continued education for tenants on tobacco cessation services. Overall, the policy has been well received by tenants and even inspired another multi-unit housing property in Columbia County to follow suit!

As the fiscal year progressed, the Partnership was not only able to be part of a new rural community event, “The Worlds Greatest Baby Shower,” but was also able to help with the planning. This community event was put on in partnership with the Well Florida Council of North Florida and was a great opportunity to educate new moms on the dangers of both second and third hand smoke in regards to infants as well as to educate on the overall danger of tobacco issue. Through building a new community relationship the Partnership was able to work alongside Well Florida to make this event 100% tobacco-free! Read More

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Students Working Against Tobacco Club Ends the School Year with a Bang!
June 10, 2019

Before the last bell rang and school year was officially over, the SWAT club at Lake City Middle School put together goodie bags for every single student at their school. In each bag, they placed a few pieces of candy, a pencil, a word search with the effects of tobacco and most importantly a fact sheet about the dangers of electronic cigarettes.


From L to R: Killian McGhin, Lillian Martin, Hannah Reynolds (Club Sponsor), Elizabeth Drew

With Summer on the horizon they made sure they also included a message about staying tobacco free over the break and the importance joining SWAT during the following school year. Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership Goes BIG With Rodeo Banner!
May 31, 2019

This past May the Tobacco Free Partnership was excited to partner with Columbia County Resources in displaying a large banner at the local rodeo arena promoting the local Columbia County Tobacco Education and Prevention Program.

The arena and banner are located off Bascom Norris in Lake City a highly trafficked location with the arena being a highly visible spot as well. “Our goal is to get not only the Tobacco Free Partnership logo out there as much as possible but also to let people know there are in fact resources available to the community,” commented Joey O’Hern the Columbia County Community Health Advocate with the QuitDoc Foundation.

It is the goal and hope of the Partnership that the banner will not only further develop the brand awareness and recognition of the program but also drive traffic to the Partnership website where community members, business leaders, elected officials and more will utilize the resources while also learning what all the program does.

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Tobacco Free Florida Week Takes Aim at Youth Vaping Epidemic
April 28, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County took to the streets during Tobacco Free Florida Week 2019 to educate on “E-Epidemic: Vaping and Youth.”

Tobacco Free Florida Week took place April 22-28 and the goal was simple, educate as many people as possible on the dangers of electronic cigarettes.

“As crazy as it seems, most people have no idea the real dangers of electronic cigarette use and that fact this is is exactly what we’re calling it, an epidemic,” commented Joey O’Hern, Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist.

The facts are alarming to say the least, youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country and in Florida. In 2018 about 25% of Florida high school students reported currently using electronic vaping, a 58% increase compared to 2017. Read More

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SWAT Uses Through With Chew Week and Kick Butts Day to Fight Back!
March 20, 2019

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members in Columbia County utilized Through With Chew Week and Kick Butts Day to shine a light on the dangers of tobacco use and how Big Tobacco targets teens in an effort to make them tobacco users.

In February students not only created an informative and educational poster campaign laying out the facts of smokeless tobacco but also took to their morning announcements to educate their peers on the harmless effects of using smokeless tobacco. Included in their morning announcements were facts such as, “Smokeless tobacco users have an 80% higher risk of getting oral cancer,” and “chewing tobacco puts more nicotine into your bloodstream than a traditional cigarette!”

When March rolled around it was time for “Kick Butts Day!” The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida (BTFF) was a key asset in the messaging SWAT students used. SWAT members took the posters designed by BTFF and placed them through their schools in high trafficked areas that were sure to be seen by students and staff. The posters included great information regarding electronic cigarettes such as, “E-cigarettes are not harmless. Studies have show that some aerosol contains probably cancer causing chemicals.” Another alarming e-cig fact that resonates with students is, “Many e-cigarettes contain liquid nicotine, which is highly addictive.”

Overall tobacco control observance holidays provide a great opportunity for SWAT students to really educate their peers as well as faculty and staff on the dangers of Big Tobacco!

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Columbia County Sees Growth In Tobacco Free Events
March 19, 2019

It’s often asked, “Why should this event go tobacco-free? Or even smoke-free? It’s outside, let people do what they want!” It’s simple, tobacco free events provide endless benefits to community members by allowing them to enjoy an event with the worry of being exposed to secondhand smoke or vapor, providing an environment that shows youth tobacco use is not the norm, and by supporting those that have made the difficult decision to quit the use of tobacco.  With Tobacco being the number preventable cause of death and disease tobacco free events send a very important message that the community’s health and well-being are a priority. 

For the past few years, creating a safer environment by pushing for more tobacco-free events in Columbia County has been one of the main focuses of the Tobacco Free Partnership. In fact, the Partnership has worked with community events such as The Worlds Greatest Baby Shower, Olustee Festival, and Kids Day to write and implement
tobacco-free event policies.

“To some these events going smoke or tobacco free may seem minute or irrelevant but in all reality they’re really the stepping stones to changing the social norms that tobacco use is a way of life in here in Columbia County,” commented Joey O’Hern, Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist. Recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation county health rankings put adult smoking in Columbia County at 22%, higher than the state average of 15% and creating a culture of being tobacco free can only help lower those numbers.  Read More

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Helping Employees Quit Tobacco
November 15, 2018

More times than not employees are a valuable resource in every business and although fewer people today are smoking, employees who smoke or vape* during work hours can cost employers $4,056 in lost productivity annually. This is a result of frequent smoke breaks, increased number of sick days, and distraction. Health care costs can increase by as much as $2,056 per smoking employee for a total of $6,112. A hidden cost is low morale among non-smokers who are likely being asked to cover for the co-worker who is outside smoking. Could this be your worksite?

Smoking is an addiction, not a habit. So how do employers help employees quit tobacco? Number one; employees are never asked to quit. Environment and a culture of support for wellness creates a climate of change for smokers. This is easily accomplished with a Tobacco Free Policy. Every business has a set of rules for employees regardless of industry. Every set of rules should include a policy addressing tobacco use while on duty or on property. “When we work with businesses who either have a desire to because a tobacco free worksite or have a large number of employees who use tobacco products it’s the first thing we tell them. In addition to providing cessation resources you have to create a work culture and environment that promotes wellness while simultaneously banning the use and ‘need’ of tobacco products,” commented Joey O’Hern, Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist.

Developing a Tobacco Control Policy is a legal and moral responsibility. The Florida Clean Indoor Act (Florida Statute 386.201 – 386.2125) bans smoking in an enclosed indoor work place. A key requirement is for the person in charge of an enclosed indoor workplace to develop and implement a policy regarding smoking prohibitions. A well written policy protects non-smokers and offers smokers support via continuous cessation opportunities. The policy sets the expectation, promotes wellness, communicates cessation opportunities, and is equitable for all employees. Read More

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Lake City Middle SWAT Represents at Regional Training
November 03, 2018

Lake City Middle School SWAT Aiden Hoaglan represented Lake City Middle School and Columbia County at the Region 2 SWAT meeting held in November at the Montgomery Presbyterian Center in Starke.

The day was packed full of information and resources that could be used to further develop the Lake City Middle School SWAT program as well as increase the brand awareness and recognition of the program throughout Columbia County. Youth Advisory Board members for the statewide SWAT program updated and presented on the PhotoVoice tool as well as “Not A Lab Rat” day. SWAT members in attendance also received trainings that helped them practice their public speaking and advocacy skills.

“Trainings like this are not only a great opportunity for SWAT members from Columbia County to interact and bounce ideas from other members but also to really develop the skills needed advocate for SWAT and the local Tobacco Prevention Program,” commented Joey O’Hern, Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist.

For more information on the SWAT program in Columbia contact, you can contract Joey O'Hern at JOhern@QuitDoc.com.

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Visible and Cheap, in the Retail Environment, is Where Tobacco Enters Our Community
September 20, 2018

It’s a shocking fact that the tobacco industry spends the vast majority of their marketing money in the retail environment spending over $1 million an hour to promote their products, in which, most of their marketing efforts are aimed directly to our kids.

Essentially, the tobacco industry is buying shelf space to keep tobacco visible and offering price discounts to keep tobacco cheap. Big Tobacco is aware of what they are really “buying” is the opportunity initiate youth as tobacco users and adults who can’t quit! 

In efforts to combat these marketing tactics, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County has been elbow deep in the retail realm of the tobacco industry for the past few years. During the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year, adult TFP members, along with the help of Columbia County SWAT Youth, conducted closed to 100 point of sale (POS) store audits, nearly every licensed tobacco retailer in Columbia County in an effort to gain information that’ll be use in an effort to counter Big Tobacco’s marketing schemes!

The retail point of sale is comprised of three main categories: (a) point-of-sale advertisements, (b) price discounts (c) coupons. This was a very comprehensive and lengthy process as the store audit assessment form was 11 pages long and contained 27 questions. However, this first phase of retail assessment was an eye-opening experience for all involved and brought much to our attention locally. Read More

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Columbia County Public Housing Goes Smoke Free
September 01, 2018

Following a mandate from HUD the Columbia County Public Housing Authority has recently implemented a smoke free policy for its properties. The policy was drafted by the local public housing authority board and with little opposition from residents was easily passed and a new phase of public housing living begun.

“Change is always difficult for most people but in the end this is one that’s not only good for the physical property as it’ll reduce cost of rehabbing properties when a smoker moves out, but it’s also one that’ll benefit the health of residents as whole. Secondhand smoke from just one unit puts everyone else at risk,” commented Joey O’Hern, local Tobacco Prevention Program Staff.

Through the assistance of the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida, local Tobacco Prevention Program staff were able to assist the Columbia County Public Housing Authority with signage for entrances onto property as well as individual apartments as well.

Not only does the passing of a comprehensive smoke free policy for residents have its health benefits it’s also a safety precaution. Statistically, each year in the U.S., an estimated 7,600 smoke-related fires occur in residential buildings. While policy change can offer be scary, especially for those who are smokers, statistically four out five non-smokers are in favor of a smoke-free building policy. It is the goal that with the local Public Housing Authority going smoke-free that it will encourage other multi-unit housing properties to do the same.

     

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Columbia County SWAT Youth Attend Region 2 SWAT Meeting
June 9, 2018

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth from across Region 2 in Northeast Florida traveled to the Montgomery Presbyterian Center to meet for their annual regional meeting.

Each county in Region 2 had two youth in attendance providing the opportunity for local SWAT Students from Lake City Middle School to meet others with the same mission. The meeting provided an opportunity for students to discuss various ideas for bettering their school club while also learning great information on electronic cigarettes.


Pictured L to R: Nanriah Bailey and Ashlyn Moser

Our local SWAT youth and the Lake City Middle School SWAT Sponsor learned about a new electronic cigarette campaign, “Not A Lab Rat”, as well a project called “PhotoVoice” that focuses on taking pictures of things in communities that are related to tobacco and using those photos as an education tool. Read More

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Local Tobacco Prevention Specialist Take Message and Resources of “Tobacco Free Florida” to Channel 4 WJXT!
April 3, 2018

On April 3, 2018 the Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Columbia County Joey O’Hern along with the Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Bradford County, Joey O'Hern, were presented with the opportunity to appear on WJXT Channel 4 of Jacksonville to be interviewed by “The Morning Show” anchor, Melanie Lawson to not only educate North Florida on Tobacco Free Florida Week but the dangers of tobacco as a whole.

Lawson is one of many anchors of the “Morning Show” and is a native of  Longwood, just two hours south of Jacksonville. She attended Hampton University in Virginia before beginning her career in journalism at WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Md., and Dover, Del. While at WBOC, she covered Delaware legislature, Dover Air Force Base and in-depth health stories, to name a few. She received an Associated Press award for a half-hour health special that she wrote, co-produced and hosted. It focused on three deadly health conditions that plagued the community. Hosting the half-hour health special was just one way Melanie was involved in the community. Melanie lost her father to lung cancer in 2009 after he smoked for many years. In February, she shared her story on Facebook and mentioned Tobacco Free Florida’s resources. 


From L to R: Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Joey O'Hern, Bradford County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Jenna Hewett, WJXT Anchor Melanie Lawson

The three discussed the decline in cigarette smoking and the success of tobacco prevention program across the state.  While Florida has seen a significant decline in smoking, there are still about 2.5 million adult cigarette smokers in the state. We have also seen a significant rise in the use of electronic nicotine delivery devices. Studies show that two out of three cigarette smokers wish they could quit. O’Hern commented, “One of the goals of our program is to really educate as many people about the dangers of tobacco will simultaneously educated them on the numerous cessation resources that are available” He went on to say, “Channel 4 is the number one new station here on the First Coast, when an opportunity like this is presented, one where you can really get the message out to a large audience you’ve got to jump on it and we’re grateful we were able to!” Read More

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Tobacco Free Events and Recreational Areas
March 20, 2018

Why is it important to create tobacco free recreational areas and events in Columbia County? There are several reasons, starting with the environmental impacts of tobacco litter as cigarette butts are the most literred item in the world.

Around the United States, many recreation areas such as beaches, parks, and other nature and recreational areas have attempted to stem the tide of environmental damage caused by tobacco waste by creating tobacco free areas.  Many people tend to think of tobacco in terms of secondhand smoke, which is important to be sure, but it is not often that the impact of those cigarette butts, e-cigarette waste, snuff and snus pouches, and other tobacco residue is actually having on natural areas and wildlife when people use them in natural settings.

It is a well-known fact that tobacco products contain a variety of toxins like nicotine, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, arsenic, and a variety of other chemicals. They do not disappear when someone is finished using a tobacco product and they throw it on the ground. Instead, the toxins that remain in the product are deposited on the ground.  Did you know that cigarette butts are not biodegradable? All of those cigarette butts that are thrown on the ground stay there, polluting the environment. The sad fact is that cigarette butts are the number one source of beach pollution around the world (1). In fact, only about 10% of all cigarette butts are actually thrown away or put into ashtrays (2). Read More

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We All Have a Role in Promoting Tobacco Cessation in Our Community
By: Michael Potter, Health Educator Consultant, Columbia County Health Department
March 8, 2018

At the end of every quarter, The Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Newsletter finds its way to a variety of community members, business owners, elected officials, professionals, students, and families with generations of history. While it may be easy to point out the differences in between these factions, I am reminded of James 4:17, which states that “all who understand what is good for themselves and others should act upon it.”

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation’s work on “Tobacco 21”, addendums to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, and new tobacco enforcement regulations for our local public housing authority residents are actions that will strengthen our efforts without question. However, there is still room for improvement on both sides of the aisle.

A 2007 study of 910 adults who were being screened to become community health influencers found that 90% of participants were motivated to help tobacco users quit. However, only an average of 59% could identify core tobacco cessation intervention concepts, and even less were confident in their own ability to help someone quit tobacco(1). Therefore, understanding the basics of tobacco use, who it effects, and how you can help others is vital to our county’s health:

Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco Celebrate “Through With Chew Week”
February 24, 2018

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County and local Students Working Against Tobacco members took the opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco – like chew and dip – during Through With Chew Week. The national public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, and local prevention efforts aim to help combat this deadly addiction.

SWAT members at Lake City Middle School decided to go one-on-one with their peers. Setting up an informative booth during school lunches providing information on the dangers of smokeless tobacco but also educating their fellow classmates as well. Columbia High School SWAT members as well as the Tobacco Free Partnership partnered with the Olustee Festival 5K to provide information to race runners on the dangers of smokeless tobacco and the importance of “Through With Chew Week.”

Joseph O’Hern, Community Health Advocate with the QuitDoc Foundation commented, “Our smokeless tobacco numbers aren’t ideal when compared to the state average. For instance, per the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.4% of youth ages 11-17 have tried smokeless tobacco in comparison to only 5.0% across the state.” He then went on to say, “Raising awareness about smokeless tobacco is just the start of reducing those numbers and erasing the idea that smokeless tobacco is harmless.”

If you’re interested in joining the Tobacco Free Partnership in their efforts to reduce tobacco use and change social norms email info@TFP-Columbia.org.

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Lake City Middle School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Participate in Great American Smoke Out!
November 17, 2017

Every year on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout (GASO). They may use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance to quit smoking on that day. The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.


SWAT members proudly posing with the posters they made for GASO.
(From L to R: Lucas, Daniel, Nanriah, Ashlyn, Natalie)

The Lake City Middle School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) club participated in GASO this year by creating posters filled with tobacco related facts to raise awareness among students and staff of the harmful effects of tobacco. SWAT students researched the most convincing and accurate statistics to use on the posters and placed them throughout the hallways to grab the attention of passerby’s in an effort to educate their peers as well as faculty and staff. Read More

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Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth Attend Region 2 SWAT Meeting
October 21, 2017

Students Working Against Tobacco Youth from across Region 2 met in Bradford County at the Charley E. Johns Conference Center for their annual regional meeting. Each county in Region 2 had two youth in attendance. The meeting featured Sam Allen. Sam was a very engaging and inspirational speaker. His presentation was called ““Seven Things I’d tell my 15-year-old self.” Sam encouraged students to understand and focus on why they are involved in local prevention efforts.


Columbia High School SWAT Student Ethan Umstead
adding his “why” to the many others!

SWAT youth enjoyed a delicious lunch and had so much fun in the photo booth. During the afternoon sessions, students were trained on a ENDS Products Campaign that featured true & false cards (Epic & Fail). YAB youth finished up the afternoon by training Region 2 SWAT youth on Taking Down Tobacco. Read More

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Rap Musician Logic Joins Truth’s #FinishIt Campaign
By Joseph O'Hern, Columbia County Community Health Advocate
August 27, 2017

In a night packed with buzzed about performances, there was one that stood out above the crowd. Toward the end of the show, upcoming rapper Logic, along with Alessia Cara and new artist Khalid, took to the MTV Video Music Awards stage for a powerful performance of their single, “1-800-273-8255.” The song, which also happens to be the number for the National Suicide Hotline, has been hailed as an emotionally powerful anthem for those with mental health issues.

But for Logic, it doesn’t stop at a hit song. As a former tobacco user, he has now taken his platform and teamed up with Truth and the #FinishIt campaign. Following the night’s performance was a one-minute commercial featuring Logic and the cold hard facts on how Big Tobacco has specifically targeted those with mental health and substance abuse issues.

It’s a little known (yet sad) fact that people with mental health or substance abuse issues account for 40% of the cigarettes sold in the U.S. That adds up to about $37 billion in Big Tobacco’s pockets. “It’s essentially a big bully preying on the weak,” states Logic in Truth’s commercial. Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County appoints 2017-2018 Advisory Council
August 23, 2017

Lake City, FL — The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County has appointed its 2017-2018 Advisory Council.  The Advisory Council members assume a leadership role in regard to tobacco control and advocacy, education, and prevention and policy change in Columbia County.


From L to Right:
Wendy Bragdon, Shelli Shoup, Van Brown, Melody McRannolds, Hunter Shoup, and Cross Neely

This year’s advisory council members include Wendy Bragdon of Columbia County Health Department, Shelli Shoup of Columbia High School, Van Brown of the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Gateway, Melody McRannolds of Suwannee River AHEC, Hunter Shoup of Students Working Against Tobacco (Columbia High School) and Cross Neeley of Students Working Against Tobacco (Columbia High School).

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is dedicated to the creation of tobacco-free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy, and changes in local tobacco policies.  The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County reflects the goals of the CDC Best Practices, especially in regards to changes in local tobacco policies to create and promote tobacco-free social norms. The Partnership also fosters youth involvement. Using tobacco control as the model, the Partnership raises youth leaders from local schools and youth organizations

To learn more about the partnership or to get involved, visit www.TFP-Columbia.org or email info@TFP-Columbia.org.

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Students Working Against Tobaco Program (SWAT) Heads Overseas!
June 2, 2017

The Columbia High School SWAT Organization is excited to extend their outreach program to overseas. 

The SWAT members strongly believe that once a Tiger, always a Tiger and they want to make sure they do their part in making sure this message is loud and clear to their alumni.  Columbia High School’s SWAT club recently started “Tiger Take Care” Packages to send necessities and treats to CHS alumni that are deployed.  The Tigers hope to make this an ongoing project and join with the community and other school organizations so that they can send packages to more Tiger Soldiers soon.  
SWAT Member SK Lewis
 
Read More      

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City of Lake City Recognizes Tobacco Free Florida Week
May 1, 2017

On May 1st, the City Council of Lake City recognized May 7th- 13th as “Tobacco Free Florida Week.” This year’s theme, The Cost of Smoking, focused on revealing the hard truth on the deadly cost of tobacco use. “Make no doubt about it that smoking cigarettes is a costly addiction. Not only does it costs smokers their health, but also their money and time with friends and family.” explained Joseph O’Hern, Columbia County Community Health Advocate.

But the cost of smoking can also have an impact on our state and local communities as well. To date the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida program saved the state $3.2 billion in health care costs in 2015 and annual smoking related health care costs in Florida decreased 15 percent from 2006 to 2015 as a result of fewer adults smoking. Not only did the Tobacco Free Partnership work to create awareness and educate the community on “The Cost of Smoking” but local Students Working Against Tobacco clubs also took part by educating their peers as well as school district faculty and staff.  

   

Read More

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The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County and Local Students Working Against Tobaco are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 10, 2017

Lake City, Fla. – The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County and the Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida program are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco – like chew and dip – during Through With Chew Week. This national public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, and Tobacco Free Florida aims to help combat this deadly addiction. Through With Chew Week takes place Feb. 19-25, with the Great American Spit Out – a day when smokeless tobacco users join together to quit – on Feb. 23.

Although the youth cigarette smoking rate in Florida decreased over 50 percent between 2012 and 2016, the number of Florida high school students who reported current use of smokeless tobacco products decreased only 24.5 percent in those same four years. The disproportionately higher rate of smokeless tobacco use in rural areas is also alarming – current youth smokeless tobacco use is more than three times higher in rural communities than in non-rural areas. 5.4 percent of youth ages 11-17 in Columbia County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2016, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.

“While we’re proud that youth smoking is at an all-time low, the number of young Floridians using smokeless tobacco is decreasing at a dramatically slower rate,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary Dr. Celeste Philip. "We need to do more to educate about the risks and deter our young people of using these products.”

 

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, Students Working Against Tobacco from Fort White Middle School took it to the halls of their own school to better educate their peers on the dangers of smokeless tobacco. Read More

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The Issue of Smokeless Tobacco
January 17, 2017

Smokeless tobacco is not burned, contains nicotine and is addictive. Smokeless tobacco is typically called spit tobacco, chewing tobacco, chew, dip, plug, and probably a few other things. Types of smokeless tobacco include:

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Columbia High School SWAT Spreads Christmas Cheer
December 8, 2016

This December, SWAT members of Columbia High School joined with students from other clubs on campus to bring Christmas cheer to elementary students who might not have had a very Merry Christmas.

 

SWAT members sponsored a child for the Columbia High Christmas party and made sure she had everything on her Christmas list: from bubble gum flavored lollipops to clothes, shoes, Barbie and much more! The students made sure she had a Christmas to remember! 

SWAT members attended the Christmas party with their child was able to meet Santa, sing Christmas Carols, play games, and meet special guest characters from kids’ storybooks.  Our very own SWAT President, Cross Neeley, even doubled as one of Santa's helpers and appeared as Santa Claus!

 

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2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) Results Show Progress in Columbia County
December 1, 2016

We are excited to announce the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey Results for Columbia County, as well as the statewide data for 2016 is in! This is something the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT Students in Columbia County look forward to every other year as it is great information and data that can be shared with our local communities!

The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) was administered in the Spring of 2016. A total of 753 public high schools and middle schools in the 67 Florida counties participated in the FYTS. There were 69,640 students who participated in the 2016 FYTS; 33,558 at the high school level and 36,082 at the middle school level. This data is way for public health professionals, students, teachers, parents, and the public to explore data pertaining to youth tobacco use.

In Columbia County, we are happy to announce a decrease in the percentage of youth who have tried cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. In fact, in youth ages 11-17 there was a 7.7% drop in those that have tried cigarettes, 5.1% drop in those that have tried cigars and a 1.4% drop in those that have tried smokeless tobacco.

Additionally, we see similar drops in the percentage of youth who currently use cigarettes (2.8% decrease), cigars (1.8% decrease) and smokeless (0.5% decrease). For years, tobacco prevention has been at the forefront of providing education and information to decrease the use of tobacco in the Country, State of Florida and in Columbia County. It seems the work continues to pay off as we have seen a decrease in cigarettes, cigars and smokeless for several years now.

However, the raging epidemic of electronic cigarettes, hookah and vaping that Big Tobacco has created is making a mess of the hard work that we have done to minimize tobacco use in this country. We are seeing these effects nationwide, statewide and throughout Columbia County. Read More

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Tobacco Free Florida and Tobacco free Partnership of Columbia County Encourage Tobacco Users to Quit on the Great American Smokeout on November 17, 2016
November 11, 2016

WHO/WHAT:  In observance of the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Tobacco Free Florida and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County encourage tobacco users to use the date to make a quit plan or to plan in advance to quit smoking on that day – November 17, 2016.

The nationally celebrated Great American Smokeout, now in its 41st year, challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps them learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia is raising awareness of Tobacco Free Florida’s free and proven-effective resources available to Floridians to successfully quit. The “Quit Your Way” program provides users interested in quitting access to free tools, including a 2-Week Starter Kit of nicotine replacement patches, Text2Quit, Email Tips and a Quit Guide. They can choose as many tools and services as they need, or use them in addition to Tobacco Free Florida’s Phone, Group and Web Quit services. Read More

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Columbia County SWAT Students “Leave Their Mark” at Regional SWAT Training
November 5, 2016

Hurricane Matthew may have cancelled the originally scheduled Regional SWAT Retreat, but it didn’t dampen spirits during the make-up meeting held on November 5, 2016 in Palatka, Florida. Draco Thompson and Nolan Williams two of our top students from Lake City Middle School SWAT, attended to represent the SWAT Chapter of Columbia County. The morning was kicked off with interactive icebreaker activities to introduce themselves to other region 2 SWAT members and to get to know them for the remaining of the day filled with group activities.

One of the first topics of discussion at the training was time management. It allowed the SWAT members time to reflect on how to better manage their time and and included an exercise to figure out where most of their time was being spent. This was an excellent tool for them to use in their personal lives, but also a unique way to look at their time management of SWAT events, meeting etc. Other sessions focused on networking, team building, and more!

Another large portion of the meeting was spent hearing from prospective YAB (youth advocacy board) candidates. “It’s encouraging to see young leaders stand up for a cause they believe in and want to lead. The average age Big Tobacco targets is 14 so it only makes sense our youth are the the ones leading the charge,” Said Joseph O’Hern, Community Health Advocate and SWAT Coordinator for Columbia County. “I think it has definitely encouraged Draco and Nolan to stand out, speak up and maybe even run for any YAB vacancies next year!”

 

Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County appoints 2016-2017 Advisory Council
August 26, 2016

Lake City, FL — The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County has appointed its 2016-2017 Advisory Council.  The Advisory Council members assume a leadership role in regard to tobacco control and advocacy, education, and prevention and policy change in Columbia County.

This year’s advisory council members include (from L to R) Wendy Bragdon of Columbia County Health Department, Stephanie Hosch of Lake City Middle School, Lindsey Roberts of American Cancer Society, Nolan Williams of Students Working Against Tobacco (Lake City Middle School) and Cross Neeley of Students Working Against Tobacco (Columbia High School).

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is dedicated to the creation of tobacco-free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy, and changes in local tobacco policies.  The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County reflects the goals of the CDC Best Practices, especially in regards to changes in local tobacco policies to create and promote tobacco-free social norms. The Partnership also fosters youth involvement. Using tobacco control as the model, the Partnership raises youth leaders from local schools and youth organizations

To learn more about the partnership or to get involved, visit www.TFP-Columbia.org or email info@TFP-Columbia.org.

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Tobacco Free Partnership Kicks Off New Year
August 23, 2016

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is trying something new this year and is switching to a quarterly meeting with hopes to increase attendance and collaboration among Partners.

The first meeting this quarter was held on August 23, 2016 at Lake Shore Hospital Authority and laid the groundwork for a busy year. Joseph O’Hern the Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist commented, “Last year was all about building relationships in the community. We met a lot of great people and worked to lay the foundation for a successful program. This year we hope to build on that.”

The Partnership has a lot lined up this year with the Snow Day 5k, Olustee Festival, Relay for Life, community health fairs and more! “We really want to ramp up our ‘boots on the ground’ efforts this year and start recruiting and empowering new partners.” At a recent Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida workshop training it was stressed the importance of being more productive. It’s not only about quantity, rather the quality of the members that you have at your table. “Tobacco prevention is an issue that is in one way or another connected to each of us. I want to bring to the people who are passionate about it and want to join the fight,” added O’Hern. Read More

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Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) in Columbia County Reflect on an Impactful Year
June 6, 2016

After another successful school year has winded down we asked local Students Working Against Tobacco club members to reflect on the school year, what they had accomplished and the impact they had. Students from Lake City Middle School and FT. White Middle School shared their thoughts below:

We have participated in many activities this year in school and out of school. We typically meet on Friday mornings and discuss tobacco related topics. We make posters for awareness around our school, we led Red Ribbon Week, and we do hands-on activities to understand the negative effects of tobacco. We also have participated in SWAT activities in the community. Some of these include marching in parades and going to city council meetings. Towards the middle of the year, we received a proclamation for Through with the Chew Week. A few months after that, we received another proclamation at a County Commissioner’s Board meeting for Tobacco Free Florida Week. My experience as a SWAT member has been a lot of fun and I cannot wait to do more to make Columbia County tobacco free.   

Nolan Williams
Lake City Middle School’s SWAT

 

Read More

   
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Lake City Middle School SWAT and Tobacco Free Partnership Receive Tobacco Free Florida Week Proclamation
May 5, 2016

On May 5th, the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners recognized May 8th- 14th as “Tobacco Free Florida Week.” This year’s theme, Secondhand Smoke Exposed, focused on dispelling the common myth that secondhand smoke is harmless. The fact is that breathing even small amounts of secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Secondhand smoke, has hundreds of toxic chemicals including about 70 that are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke greatly increases the risk of lung cancer, which is Florida’s number-one cancer killer. Each year, primarily due to secondhand smoke exposure, an estimated 7,300 non-smoking Americans die of lung cancer.


From L to R: Commissioner Scarlet Frisina , SWAT Student Nolan Williams,
Partnership Member/SWAT Advisor Stephanie Hosch

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from Lake City Middle School were present to not only receive the Proclamation observing the week but took the opportunity to educate local decision makers on the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Read More

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Fort White Middle School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Share Information on the Risks of Smokeless Tobacco
February 18, 2016

During “Through With Chew Week”, SWAT members from Fort White Middle School took it to the classrooms to directly educate their peers on smokeless tobacco.


Back Row, from L to R: Mya Harvell, Evan Johnson, and Elizabeth DePasquale-Schweitzer;  Front row, from L to R:  Jacovya Major and Lana Tedesco

Here’s what SWAT member Sydnee Kelly said about her experience.

"We gave presentations about smokeless tobacco during Through With Chew Week.  At the end of January, we had two short SWAT meetings to organize and practice in our groups what we were going to say to the homeroom classes.  We wrote our scripts so everyone would know exactly what to say and divided into partners. We presented facts and advertising awareness to grades six through eight about the dangers that smokeless tobacco can cause. Everyone had to wear their SWAT shirts, so we could match and represent our club. The students, including me, enjoyed our meetings and the presentations. Several of our teachers told our sponsor that we did a great job."

"I was in a group with my best friend, Payton Gainey. We went to two eighth grade classrooms. At first, I was nervous to go to a higher grade level classroom, but I was with one of my best friends and I knew some of the people in the classes, so I was fine then. I felt good that I educated others on smokeless tobacco and also learned some new facts about it myself. We hope we can do more things like this in the future."

“Through With Chew Week" is a public awareness campaign that was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people and help combat this deadly addiction. This wek, “Through With Chew Week” took place during the week of February 14-20.

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Lake City Middle School Students Working Against Tobacco Receive Through With Chew Week Proclamation
February 16, 2016

On February 16th, the City of Lake City recognized Feb 14th-20th as “Through With Chew Week.”

Through With Chew Week is a public awareness campaign that was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people and help combat this deadly addiction. Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from Lake City Middle School were present to not only receive the Proclamation observing the week but they took the opportunity to educate local decision makers on the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

SWAT members Ora Darr and Nolan WIlliams took to the podium to educate decision makers on smokeless tobacco as well as their recent SWAT activities. Read More

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Smokeless Tobacco Use Remains High in Columbia County
QuitDoc Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 3, 2016

LAKE CITY, Fla. – QuitDoc Foundation and the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, like chew and dip, during “Through With Chew Week.” This public awareness campaign was created to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people and help combat this deadly addiction. “Through With Chew Week” takes place Feb. 14-20.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use, the Students Working Against Tobacco clubs at Ft. White High School, Ft. White Middle School, Lake City Middle School, and Richardson Middle School are ramping up efforts to better educate students, faculty and staff on the harms of smokeless tobacco. Students are creating large displays, giving presentations to peers and much more. The Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT will also be receiving a proclamation from the City of Lake City on February 16th recognizing the week.

Although youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low, 8.7% percent of high school students in Columbia County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2014 according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. This is higher than the state average of 5.4 percent.

“Smokeless tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer,” said Shannon Hughes, Director of the Florida Department of Health’s Community Health Promotion. "Youth who use smokeless products are more likely to experiment with other types of tobacco. Studies have shown that adolescent boys who use smokeless tobacco have a higher risk of becoming cigarette smokers.” Read More

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United States Congress Passes Child Nicotine Poisoning Protection Act; The Bill Now Goes to President Obama for His Signature
January 11, 2016

On January 11, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation requiring that liquid nicotine be sold in child-resistant packaging, consistent with Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.The Senate previously approved the legislation (the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act), which is designed to protect children from poisoning from highly concentrated vials of liquid nicotine.  The bill now heads to the White House for President Obama's signature.

"In recent years, the marketing of unregulated flavored nicotine products has led to a surge in accidental ingestion by children," said Dr. Barry Hummel, a Pediatrician and Co-Founder of the Quit Doc Foundation. "The new law will hold candy-flavored nicotine, including bubble gum and gummy bear flavored products, to the same standards as other over-the-counter drugs by requiring child-resistant packaging."

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, one teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a small child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness.
"In 2011, there were 271 cases of accidental nicotine ingestion reported to poison control centers," added Dr. Hummel. "That number jumped to 3,783 by 2014, a 14-fold increase. More than half of these cases involved children under the age of 6, the group most vulnerable to severe illness and death." Read More

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The Hollywood Review
December 10, 2015

Tyra Knows The “Truth”

Make no mistake about it; Tyra Banks is one of the most successful, powerful, and influential supermodels in the world. Whatever she touches turns to gold, which might be a good thing as Banks has recently partnered with the Truth Campaign to inspire women to stop smoking. The cause is personal one to Tyra as she lost her grandmother to a battle with lung cancer. Tyra Beauty (Banks makeup company) and Truth have teamed up for the “Smoke Your Eyes, Not Cigarettes” campaign that features a holiday make up kit called the “Sexy Smokeshow.” In the announcement for the collaboration Tyra stated, “During my modeling career, never did I once light up a cigarette.” She went on to say, “There was enough ‘smoke’ around my eyes, I didn’t need any in my lungs.”

Tyra Banks

 

Celebrity Wedding Ceremony Goes Up In Smoke?

Mary-Kate Olsen stole your heart when she made her TV debut sharing the role of Michelle Tanner on the hit 90’s show “Full House.” She and her twin sister Ashley launched an incredibly lucrative business after that. Movies, music, make up, clothes, fragrances and much more helped make the Olsen twins net worth a reported $300 million dollars. So you would think when one of them got married they’d have the best caterer in the business? You’d expect lavish spreads, the finest cuisines and much more right? Wrong.  When Mary Kate married French banker Olivier Sarkozy in November, Page Six reported the guest were treated to “bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes, and everyone smoked the whole night.” If cigarettes were the catering I wonder if the wedding favor was emphysema? Read More  
Mary Kate Olsen

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County appoints 2015-2016 Advisory Council
October 26, 2015

LAKE CITY, FL — The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County has appointed its 2015-2016 Advisory Council.  The Advisory Council members assume a leadership role in regard to tobacco control and advocacy, education, and prevention and policy change in Columbia County.

TFP Advisory Council

This year’s advisory council members include Wendy Bragdon of Columbia County Health Department, Stephanie Hosch of Lake City Middle School, Pastor Dustin Busscher of Christ Central, Lindsey Greenockle of American Cancer Society, Raylen Farres of Students Woring Against Tobacco and Kyler Mclean of Students Working Against Tobacco.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County is dedicated to the creation of tobacco-free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy, and changes in local tobacco policies.  The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County reflects the goals of the CDC Best Practices, especially in regards to changes in local tobacco policies to create and promote tobacco-free social norms. The Partnership also fosters youth involvement. Using tobacco control as the model, the Partnership raises youth leaders from local schools and youth organizations

To learn more about the partnership or to get involved, visit www.TFP-Columbia.org or email info@TFP-Columbia.org.

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Students Working Against Tobacco Club Participates in Columbia High School Homecoming Parade
October 16, 2015

LAKE CITY, FL — Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth from Lake City Middle School participated in the Columbia High School homecoming parade this year. They had a wonderful time representing their school as well as the SWAT program, and took advantage of the opportunity to educate their community on the dangers of tobacco use.

LCMS SWAT

After the event, a few of those students took a moment to reflect on their parade experience…

“SWAT impacted the youth as we walked in the parade. As I was passing by, I overheard a conversation between a child (about 6 or 7) and an adult. The child asked if a cigarette was tobacco. The adult said yes and the child asked, ‘Are you going to die?’ I watched as the adult dropped the cigarette and stepped on it.” Ora Daar, 8th grade

Read More

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Teen Smoking Rates at All-Time Low
E-Cigarette Use On the Rise, Cause for Concern
September 23, 2015

TALLAHASSEE – Youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low according to new data released on Tuesday by the Florida Department of Health. Conventional cigarette use among Florida high school students dropped from 8.6 percent in 2013* to 6.9 percent in 2015 – a 19.7 percent change. The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) also showed declines in other combustible and traditional smokeless products.

“Floridians should be proud of the historic progress made in the state to reduce the number of young cigarette smokers,” said Community Health Promotion Division Director Shannon Hughes. “Since voters approved the constitutional amendment to create Tobacco Free Florida, high school cigarette smoking has gone down an impressive 52.4 percent.”

This new report also marks another important, but more troubling trend. Current e-cigarette use among high school students has increased – from 5.4 percent in 2013 to 15.8 percent in 2015. Hookah use among high school students has also increased, from 8.2 percent in 2013 to 9.7 percent in 2015. Since 2009, when FYTS began tracking current hookah use, the rate has increased 26 percent. Read More

FYTS 2015 Trend Data

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Carrie Underwood's Controversial "Smoke Break"
Joey O'Hern, Columbia County Community Health Advocate
September 9, 2015

Hailing from Checotah, Oklahoma it didn’t take long for the judging panel of American Idol to realize that Carrie Underwood had a big voice and an even bigger shot at global superstardom. Coasting through the competition, never finding herself in jeopardy of being eliminated, Underwood went on to win the hearts of America during season 4 of the hit reality show. By doing so she eventually won the title and a record contract. Just ten years later after numerous sold out tours, 7 Grammy Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards and 13 number 1 singles it’s safe to say Carrie Underwood has a career new artists dream about.

As her professional life became one of legend, her personal life began to flourish as well. After meeting hockey player Mike Fisher after one of her concerts in 2008 the couple hit it off and were engaged in 2009 and finally wed in the Summer of 2010. Fast-forward to Labor Day 2014, Underwood took to her social media to announce to the world that she and her husband were expecting their first child together and eventually welcomed baby Isaiah into the world on February 27, 2015.

Though the industry seemed happy for her success both professional and personal the biggest remaining question was: how long would Carrie take off to focus on family and how long could her career hold on during an indefinite hiatus? Hoping to hold fans over during her time away being a mom Underwood released “Greatest Hits: Decade #1.” The albums lead single “Something In The Water” became a massive hit for Underwood and ended up winning her yet another Grammy Award.

Though “Greatest Hits” gave fans of the country superstar a taste of new music it wasn’t a new album. In fact her last all original album was released 3 years ago. It may not seem like a long time but for an artist whose previous work was known to hit the charts back-to-back it is an eternity.  Needless to say fans were quite welcoming when Carrie Underwood took to social media to announce her latest single titled, “Smoke Break” off her upcoming album, surprising music fans and industry people with the fact she was back... Read More

Carrie Underwood - Smoke Break

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Warning Labels and Child-Resistant Packaging on Liquid Nicotine Bottles
A Letter from Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong
July 22, 2015

There have been a number of media stories recently concerning the regulation of packaging for liquid nicotine intended for use in electronic cigarettes. The rapid increase of e-cigarette use by teens and the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine is an alarming public health concern. The state of Florida urges immediate guidance from federal regulators and calls for increased vigilance from parents, businesses and e-cigarette users to keep these items away from children.

Liquid Nicotine Poisonings

Child-resistant packaging on bottles and cartridges of liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices are necessary to protect infants and children. If swallowed or absorbed through the skin, liquid nicotine can lead to serious illness or even death. In fact, the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014, according to a study published last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than half of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children under age 5. The number of calls per month involving conventional cigarettes did not show a similar increase during the same time period... Read More

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QuitDoc Foundation Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for Columbia County
July 1, 2015

QuitDoc Foundation has been awarded a grant from the State of Florida Department of Health to provide tobacco awareness and prevention programs throughout Columbia County.  The programs are designed to reduce the number of teenagers who start smoking each year, to decrease the number of tobacco related deaths, and to provide information on appropriate methods to quit smoking.

The program is funded from a trust fund created with money paid to Florida as part of a settlement with the tobacco industry in 1997.   Florida sued the tobacco industry to recoup the cost of providing medical services to Florida residents that were caused by the use of tobacco.

The final piece!

“Tobacco use is the single biggest public health problem in the United States,” reports Dr. Barry Hummel, a Pediatrician who co-founded the non-profit foundation.  “We lose over 400,000 people every year to diseases caused by tobacco.  Sadly, they are replaced by over one million children and teenagers who are lured into smoking by the predatory marketing practices of the Tobacco Industry.” Read More