News and Events

Thirteen Students Working Against Tobacco Members Graduate from Okeechobee High School!
June 7, 2017

A big congratulation is in order for 13 seniors of the Okeechobee High School SWAT Club who earned a SWAT Club honor cord to wear at graduation.  Seniors who qualified to earn the cord had to meet a rigorous set of expectations in order to be awarded the cord. SWAT Club uses the cords to attract new members at the beginning of each year during their club rush event. Many students join SWAT because they have parents or loved ones who are tobacco users and want to break the cycle of addiction in their family and educate other.  Others join the SWAT club because they enjoy the community events and giving back to their community.

SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) is Florida's 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. Maybe you’re asking yourself, what does our club do in our community? SWAT works to change the social norms associated with tobacco. This means we want to change the way people think about tobacco… making it less desirable, less acceptable and less accessible. Read More

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City of Okeechobee Proclaims May 7-13 as "Tobacco Free Florida Week"
May 16, 2017

Okeechobee County Celebrated Tobacco Free Florida Week by being awarded a proclamation from the City of Okeechobee.  Tobacco prevention staff Courtney Moyett and Okeechobee High School SWAT Club member Mariah Spelts were presented with the award by Mayor Dowling Watford Jr..  Mayor Watford congratulated Moyett on her work in the community and allowed them a moment to address the council.  Moyett thanked the council for their continued support and allowed Spelts to speak about this year’s theme “The Cost of Smoking.”

  Did you know that smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers? In Florida, 30% of all cancer deaths are due to smoking. Some smokers live with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or another smoking related illness that reduces the quality of life for those individuals. Besides the health costs of smoking, many people don’t consider the financial costs of smoking. For a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day in Florida, it can cost $2000 per year. Since 90% of smokers first tried using cigarettes by age 18, imagine the lifetime cost of smoking over the years. In just five years, $10,000 will be spent on cigarettes for a pack-a-day smoker. What could you do with $10,000? Tobacco use costs thousands of dollars for families each year.  
    Read More  
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The QuitDoc Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 10, 2017

Okeechobee, Fla. – QuitDoc Foundation 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. 4.5 percent of youth ages 11-17 in Okeechobee reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2016, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 2.2 percent is the state average.

“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, Okeechobee High School SWAT (students working against tobacco) Club participated in the Health and Safety Expo and interacted with attendees and educated them on smokeless tobacco.  SWAT Clubs throughout Okeechobee county will be holding events during through with chew week to open more eyes to the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco products.
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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The Tobacco Free Partnership Shares Information at the Okeechobee Legislative Delegation Meeting
January 6, 2017

On January 6th, 2017, members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee had the privilege to speak about tobacco prevention and education in Okeechobee County during our local Legislative Delegation meeting.  Courtney Moyett, a member of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee, spoke about the newly released local data from the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey that shows that cigarette use in Okeechobee county is decreasing while the use of electronic cigarettes is on the rise, as well as the most recent FDA deeming regulations for Electronic Cigarettes. Moyett also gave an overview of our local SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) Clubs, a brief breakdown of the cost of using tobacco, and an overview of the events that are being held in Okeechobee County for tobacco prevention this program year.  Also discussed was the allocation of tobacco prevention funding through the Florida Constitution, Article X, Section 27.


Pictured from L-R: Senator Denise Grimsley, TFP Volunteer Wyatt Deihl, Courtney Moyett Community Health Advocate for Okeechobee County, Representative Cary Pigman

Wyatt Deihl, a graduate of the Okeechobee SWAT Club and current partnership member, spoke about how the SWAT youth are making an impact on tobacco prevention by holding community awareness projects like the lake clean up, Kick Butts Day and Through With Chew Week projects.  Deihl also expressed his concerns for the youth of Okeechobee County who are using electronic cigarettes and the rise of popularity of these products over the past few years. Read More

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Traditional Tobacco Use Continues to Decrease Among Okeechobee County Youth, but E-Cigarette Use Continues to Rise
November 30, 2016

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee is excited to announce the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey Results for Okeechobee County; statewide data for 2016 has also been released. This release of data is something that the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT Students of Okeechobee look forward to. This data enables public health professionals, students, teachers, parents, and the public to explore information pertaining to youth tobacco use.

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 contributed to the 2016 FYTS; 33,558 at the high school level and 36,082 at the middle school level.

We are proud to report that Okeechobee county experienced a decrease in the percentage of youth who have tried cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. In fact, the data exhibited a 7% reduction in the number of those who have ever tried cigarettes. The data showed a 8.7% decrease in the number of those who have ever tried cigars, and a 1.3% decline in those who have ever tried smokeless tobacco.
Read More

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Okeechobee County Youth Attend Regional Students Working Against Tobacco Training in Fort Lauderdale
November 12, 2016

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Advisor Courtney Moyett brought two outstanding local SWAT Youth to a regional training opportunity in Fort Lauderdale on November 12.

Yessica Hernandez and Alex Soriano, both members of The Okeechobee High School SWAT Club and leaders of their local SWAT Chapter, attended the training, where they learned a variety of new skills and provided valuable feedback on the work being done around the state to reduce the tobacco industry’s influence on young adults.
Seasoned members of their SWAT Club, Yessica and Alex represented Okeechobee County at the training and brought their own unique perspective to the day’s activities, which included an opening ceremony hosted by the St. Lucie County SWAT Chapter and the statewide Youth Advocacy Board elections for Region 4 SWAT members.

The day included a jam-packed schedule of sessions, including a team skill building game on a variety of tobacco prevention topics, including facilitation, personal management, communication and SWAT planning. Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership Supports Back to School Expo
July 30, 2016

Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee is proud to be the silver sponsor of the Back to School Expo, which was held on July 30th at the Okeechobee High School Gymnasium.  This event is open to all school aged students and their families, with approximately 2000 people in attendance. 

Attendees were able to visit each booth and learn about local services provided, get free back to school supplies, see in person demonstrations from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit and also received back to school clothes if needed.

 

The Partnership handed out pens and pencils to the students, and educated attendee on the goal and objectives of our partnership and ways they could get involved.
Read More

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Expanding Horizons Summer Youth Program Learns About the Risks of Tobacco Use
July 1, 2016

On July 1st, Okeechobee County SWAT Coordinator and Tobacco Prevention Specialist Courtney Moyett, had the privilege of presenting to the students who are participating in the Expanding Horizons Summer Youth Program at Indian River State College.

Mrs. Moyett spoke to the youth about the dangers of tobacco usage, the different types of tobacco, how second and third hand smoke effects your body, and ways that they can get involved to make a difference in Okeechobee County. 

Attendees were also encouraged to join a SWAT Club at their local high school or middle school and help educate their peers about the deceptive market used by Big Tobacco to lure teens into using tobacco products. Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership Supports Okeechobee Grad Night
June 4, 2016

For the last 27 years Okeechobee has not had one death of a senior on graduation night and that is largely because of Grad Night. 

The community of Okeechobee has united once again to offer our best wishes to our high school graduates by hosting the annual all-night Grad Night celebration on June 4th 2016. The celebration is open to all Okeechobee graduating seniors and one pre-approved guest of their choice. 

Grad Night is organized by a local committee and supported by: the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee, Okeechobee Rotary Club, and many other local businesses. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County was honored to help sponsor this year's event, which creates a drug-and-alcohol free event for local high school graduates. 


Pictured is Courtney Moyett Tobacco Prevention Specialist, and Grad Nite Committee Members

Grad Night begins one hour after the high school graduation ceremony ends.  This year’s event is being held at Chobee Skate and Play.  Graduating seniors attend the event with a pre-approved guest of the choice.  Upon arrival each student is checked in and given a wristband, the students are not permitted outside of the building during the entire event, and they are not permitted to return to the event once they leave. By not allowing the students to leave and return, and not allowing the students to obtain their prizes until the next morning it encourages the youth to stay the entire time of the event. Read More

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Okeechobee High School Recognizes Graduating Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members
May 12, 2016

On May 12, Okeechobee High School SWAT Club honored their graduating seniors with an awards ceremony and highlighted their achievements over the past few year.  This year, the club will have 24 seniors graduating from the club and they will be greatly missed.

Over the past years these students have been instrumental in helping pass the new 100% tobacco free grounds policy that was adopted by the school district in April of 2015, and have received proclamations from both the City and the County of Okeechobee. 

SWAT students also attended regional training events in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and were given awards at those trainings for the work they do in their community and growing their club to over 35 active members. 

These students participated in numerous events over the years to try and change the social norm perception of tobacco among the youth in Okeechobee.  Some of their events were: The Health and Safety Expo, Santa in the Park, Bell ringing for Salvation Army, Lake O Clean up on Kick Butts Day, Okeechobee County Fair, DARE Graduation, Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta and Legislative Delegation. Read More 

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Smokeless Tobacco Use Remains High in Okeechobee County
QuitDoc Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 16, 2016

Okeechobee, 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” took place Feb. 14-20.

Although youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low, 8.8 percent of high school students in Okeechobee County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2014, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, which is higher than the state average of 5.4%

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use QuitDoc Foundation, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County and Okeechobee High School SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) Club President, Jasmine Moyett presented to the City Council to ask them to adopt a Through With Chew Week Proclamation.  Ms. Moyett educated the Mayor and Council with local statistics about youth using smokeless tobacco in Okeechobee County.  She also stated that bringing awareness to smokeless tobacco is imperative because products like chew and dip can contain more nicotine than traditional cigarettes, and can lead to a lifetime of addiction.  On Feb. 16, 2016, at 6 p.m. the Okeechobee City Council unanimously approved the proclamation.  Ms. Moyett thanked the Mayor, Council and City Administrator for their ongoing support of the SWAT Club and assured them that her Club would continue to advocate against tobacco use. Read More

Pictured from L-R: Jasmine Moyett Okeechobee High School SWAT Club President, Courtney Moyett Community Health Advocate for QuitDoc Foundation and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee, and City of Okeechobee Mayor James Kirk.

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Okeechobee SWAT Youth Attend 9th Health and Safety Expo
January 30, 2016

OKEECHOBEE, FL – On Saturday January 30th, Okeechobee County SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) members participated in the Ninth Annual Okeechobee Family Health and Safety Expo, where there were over 1700 guest in attendance and 120 vendors participating.  This event encouraged the residents of Okeechobee County to learn more about healthy lifestyle practices. 

Okeechobee SWAT members had an informational booth that educated guest on the harmful effects of tobacco and steps they can take to stop using tobacco.  SWAT members also encouraged guest to participate in an activity where the guest were asked general knowledge questions about tobacco and earned a prize for participation. 

The Students Working Against Tobacco Program Club is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco free future. The program is available in each county through funding provided by Tobacco Free Florida.

 
From L to R: Ronald McDonald, Okeechobee High School SWAT President Jasmine Moyett, and OHS SWAT Club member Jackie Anton

To learn more about the SWAT club or to join a local SWAT club visit our website at www.swatflorida.com or contact Courtney Moyett, SWAT Club Coordinator at 863-801-8277, email: cmoyett@quitdoc.com.

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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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QuitDoc Foundation Community Health Advocate Addresses Rotary Club of Okeechobee County
October 13, 2015

On October 13th 2015, Courtney Moyett, Community Health Advocate for the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County and QuitDoc Foundation was the honored guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Okeechobee’s weekly meeting.  Courtney educated the club on the new goal areas for the tobacco prevention program in Okeechobee County.

Rotary Club

QuitDoc Foundation was awarded a grant in 2012 by the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida to provide tobacco prevention programs in Okeechobee County.  For the past 3 years, these programs have included youth prevention, such as the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs at each middle school, high school, tobacco free workplaces, smoke-free multi-unit housing, and measures to counteract marketing of candy flavored tobacco products and retail advertising.  QuitDoc Foundation also facilitates the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County, which includes partners and stakeholders in the community. Read More

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Okeechobee Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth Compete in Local Regatta
October 3, 2015

On October 3rd 2015, Yearling Middle School SWAT Club participated in the 5th Annual Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta. 

The regatta is a homemade boat race where all the boats are constructed of the same minimal supplies and then compete in the water. 

SWAT Entry

The Yearling Middle School SWAT club spent several weekends building their boat and painted anti-tobacco messages on the side of the boat. 

The captain of the boat was Dustin Lowe and he navigated his way to a third place victory in the “first mate” race class. 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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Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County Provides New Signage to Okeechobee County School District
September 11, 2015

Okeechobee, FL — On Friday September 11, 2015, The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County presented the school district with 27 new district approved tobacco-free signs.  These new signs promote the School District’s revision of the tobacco free policy that became effective July 1, 2015.  

The new policy prohibits students, employees, parents, volunteers, and visitors from using tobacco products of any kind on any School District properties, in district vehicles, and at district or school sponsored events.  Prohibited tobacco products include chewing tobacco, synthetic tobacco products, and electronic cigarettes/cigars.
Read More

 
Okeechobee High School Signs
Pictured: Back Row from Left to Right: Dylan Tedders Principal at Okeechobee High School, Lauren Myers, Vice Principal, Courtney Moyett, Community Health Advocate for QuitDoc FoundationTobacco; Front Row from Left to Right: Sherry Wise Vice Principal, Jasmine Moyett President of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) Club at OHS.

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Tobacco Free Partnerhip Members Educate Local Youth on the Risks of Tobacco Use
August 20, 2015

This past summer tobacco prevention staff along with Partnership volunteers completed presentations at two Okeechobee County Summer camps to educate youth campers on the dangers of tobacco use, including the different types of tobacco and how each type of tobacco affects your body. 

Pig Lung Demo

Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee member Butch Berlin educated campers on how tobacco smoke can affect your lungs by using a pig lung demonstration.

Each student was able to come up close and examine the lung and were asked to point out areas that looked to be abnormal lung tissue.  The students were very interested in the lung and where given a Tobacco Free Brahman bracelet afterwards to remind them to remain tobacco free. 

For more information on the work of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County, or to become a member, contact Courtney Moyett at CMoyett@QuitDoc.com.

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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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The Tobacco Free Partnership Sponsors the 2015 Okeechobee High School Grad Night
June 6, 2015

On June 6th, 2015 from 10pm- 5am, 324 Okeechobee county students were entertained at the 26th annual Okeechobee County Grad Night event.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County members along with current SWAT club members were on site all night long to engage with students about the harmful effects of tobacco and ways to quit this nasty habit.  Students and adults were offered information about different types of tobacco that is being used the three ways to quit program.  This event celebrates the beginning of a new path in life for these graduating seniors and what a better way to start that path than becoming free from the tobacco addiction!

Grad Night
Grad Night Committee Member Tabitha Trent (L)
and Okeechobee County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Courtney Moyett (R)

Grad Night is organized by a local committee and supported by The Okeechobee Educational Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee, Okeechobee Rotary Club, and the Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee. For the second consecutive year. the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County was honored to help sponsor the event. Read More

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Why School Tobacco Policy Matters
By Tracy DeCubellis, April 28, 2015

The topic of tobacco use in schools has been important for popular culture and academic research throughout the years.  Rock and Roll songs about smoking in school and movies showing rebellious teens smoking on campus are part of public perception about school tobacco use.  Since Brownsville Station observed back in 1973, “everybody knows that smoking ain’t allowed in school,” why does it still happen?  That is what researchers want to know.

School Bus

A recent look at school tobacco policies in Michigan and how they affect student smoking had some interesting results as reported in the Journal of School Health.

There is a statewide initiative in Michigan that encourages schools to create a 24/7 tobacco policy that covers on and off-campus activities and applies to all students, staff, and visitors.  This is similar to the school policy being encouraged in Florida through the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida.  Using the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the researchers looked at data reported by students. They also looked at data from 14 schools using the Michigan School Health Profiles report.  The study also looked at individual and school-based variables that they thought would influence student tobacco use.

The results of the study showed that some school policies are indeed correlated with lower student tobacco use.  The findings suggest that schools should create a school-wide anti-tobacco message and culture.  This could include being sure students know the school tobacco policy, as well as giving students the message only a small percentage of adults actually use tobacco... Read More 

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Okeechobee County School Board Finalizes New Tobacco-Free Policy for All School Properties
April 14 , 2015

Okeechobee County School District

The School Board of Okeechobee County adopted a revised tobacco-free policy for all school district properties by a 3-2 vote.

The new policy means that no student, employee, volunteer, contractor, spectator, or other school visitor can use tobacco products of any kind on campus including facilities, school grounds, and vehicles.

Tobacco products included in the new policy includes traditional products (such as cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco), and newer alternative products (such as synthetic tobacco and electronic cigarettes).

School Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said field trips, temporary duty for employees, and district and school-sponsored events if students are present, would also be included under this new policy. For example, a chaperone for a student field trip could not use tobacco during that event. "If it is our campus, it is tobacco free," said Mr. Kenworthy, adding that the district will do their best to enforce the policy... Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT Members Present to the Okeechobee County School Board about Tobacco Free Grounds Policy
February 10 , 2015

On February 10th 2015 Courtney Moyett, Okeechobee County Tobacco Prevention Specialist and Savannah Goggans, Okeechobee High School SWAT Club Vice President made a presentation to the School Board asking them to consider a 100% tobacco free grounds policy. 

Mrs. Moyett asked the board to consider a change in the current policy of designated smoking areas, to a 100% tobacco free grounds policy that would include all district properties and all district vehicles.  Moyett stated that Okeechobee County is one of 7 counties in Florida that do not have this policy in place. 

Moyett also spoke about non-tobacco users having a right to breathe free air, the negative health effects that tobacco has on users and non-users, and that the School Board should provide an indoor and outdoor tobacco free environment that is consistent with the role-modeling responsibilities of teachers and staff for our students.
Read More 

OCSB Meeting

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QuitDoc Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for Okeechobee County
February 9, 2015

Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation (QuitDoc) has once again been awarded a grant from the State of Florida Department of Health to continue to provide tobacco awareness and prevention programs throughout Okeechobee 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 funding has been used to create Tobacco Free Florida, a comprehensive statewide tobacco prevention and cessation program.

“The Tobacco Free Florida program has been incredibly successful at reducing tobacco use among youth and adults in Florida,” reports Dr. Barry Hummel, a Pediatrician who co-founded QuitDoc.  “Use of traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and spit tobacco are now at historic lows in the state among all age groups.”
Read More

2014 FYTS Youth Rates

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee and Okeechobee SWAT chapter participate in the 2015 Health and Safety Expo
January 31 , 2015

On Saturday January 31st 2015 over 1900 Okeechobee County residents attended the Health and Safety Expo.  Our local SWAT students educated attendees on flavored tobacco, second hand smoke, and the effects of smoking and smokeless tobacco by having the guest participate in a trivia game about these topics.  Many attendees were impressed by the SWAT youth’s knowledge about the topics and wanted to share their stories and life experiences with the youth. 

SWAT Booth

The Tobacco Free Partnership also had a booth at the Expo and offered information to attendees about Tobacco Free Florida’s 3 Ways to Quit Program, local work with policy change on Tobacco Free Grounds, information about how the partnership is making improvements within Okeechobee County, and information on Everglades AHEC tobacco cessation classes.

Many of the attendees commented on how informative our booths were and how impressed they were with the knowledgeable SWAT youth. Okeechobee SWAT and Tobacco Free partnership are already looking forward to participating in the 2016 Expo. Read More
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Waste Management Joins the Tobacco Free Partnership to Celebrate the Great American Smoke Out
November 21, 2014

On Friday November 21st the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee partnered with Waste Management employees to celebrate the Great American Smoke Out, which encourages smokers to quit or to use the day to make a quit plan. 

Great American Smoke Out 2014
Photo caption: Pictured in this photo are Courtney Moyett, Tobacco Prevention Specialist for Okeechobee County
and Waste Management employees Sr. District Manager Tony Bishop, Mark Broadrick,
Jason Johns, James Beville, Allen Leitner and Jaen Torres.

“Waste Management values the health of their employees,” said Community Relations Manager Teresa Chandler. “We were excited to host this event at our Okeechobee office and offer our employees options of a healthier lifestyle without tobacco products.”

Dr. Barry Hummel, co-founder of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation which manages the Tobacco Free Florida program in Okeechobee County, suggested that every day can be a Great American Smoke Out. “The key to success is choosing a quit date and creating a support network around your quit attempt,” said Dr. Hummel.  “Let everyone know that you are planning to quit on that date, and make sure the people in your life are ready to help if things get tough.” Read More

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Students Working Against Tobacco Participate in Local Regatta
October 4, 2014

Over 2700 people were in attendance at the 4th Annual Adam Bryant Minimal Regatta, on October 4th 2014, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee and For Okeechobee Inc. 

This event is in memory of Adam Bryant. Adam was a volunteer fireman, talented musician, and charming young man whose life was shortened by a devastating spinal cord injury in November 2002. He survived the initial accident and worked to recover until his passing in June 2004. Despite his suffering, he maintained his unique sense of humor, bringing frequent smiles to those close to him. This event is meant to be fun and allow creativity which truly exemplifies Adam’s spirit!

Starting Line

This year the Okeechobee High School SWAT Club built their own boat out of the “minimal” supplies provided and raced it in the race… and it did not sink!  Our SWAT boat Captain was Wyatt Deihl from Okeechobee High School.  The SWAT Club members also had a booth at the event to educate the community on what their mission is, and ways that the community can help support a tobacco free future! Read More

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Okeechobee Tobacco Prevention Specialist speaks at Indian River State College Expanding Horizons Summer Camp
July 23, 2014

Courtney Moyett, the Tobacco Prveention Specialist in Okeechobee County, had the opportunity to speak to a youthy group attending the Expanding Horizons Summer Camp on July 23, 2014.

This summer camp is for local Okeechobee teens ages 14-16, and is sponsored by the Okeechobee County School Board and Children’s Services Council. The camp is hosted on the Indian River State College campus.

Expanding Horizons Summr Camp
Courtney Moyett (center) with Expanding Horizons Summer Camp Attendees

Fourteen students and two instructors from the local Okeechobee County Schools attended the presentation.  The students were educated on the negative effects of tobacco, how tobacco can harm their bodies, and what they can do locally to help bring awareness to their peers... Read More

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Okeechobee Community Collaborative Council is Educated on the Issue of Electronic Cigarettes
July 22, 2014

Dr. Barry Hummel, the Communications Director for the Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida, gave the presentation at the monthly Okeechobee Community Collaborative Council on July 22, 2014. Dr. Hummel presented on the emerging issues of electronic drug delivery devices such as e-cigarettes, and their potential use as a delivery system for marijuana.

The presentation covered the early history of electronic cigarettes, from their invention in China in 2003, to their export across Europe and into North America by 2007. Dr. Hummel noted that several countries, including neighboring Canada and Mexico have banned their import; meanwhile, in the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dragged their feet on regulation at all.

Dr. Hummel then focused his attention on the marketing of electronic cigarettes in the absence of any regulation by the FDA. Early on, the strategy was to market the products as a safer way to smoke, with advertising that implied that you could "smoke virtually anywhere". However, after Lorillard purchased Blu E-Cigarettes, the marketing strategy began to reflect the advertising campaigns of the tobacco industry during the 1950's-1970's. Smaller companies, which are under less scrutiny, took this a step further by creating flavored products that are much more appealing to youth... Read More

Flovored Examples

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Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation is Encouraging Local Residential Buildings to Go Smoke-Free
Smoke-free Policies Can Protect Residents From Secondhand Smoke and Smoking-Related Fires
June 9, 2014

Okeechobee – Smoke-free multiunit housing, a growing trend throughout the country, is making its way to Florida. Across the state, there are more than 500 smoke-free multiunit housing properties and 73,000 smoke-free units.

Several Okeechobee residential properties have already implemented smoking-free policies.  Local residents state they are pleased to hear more properties are going smoke free.  Smoke free properties tend to be cleaner, raise property value, and are safer for all parties involved.  The local Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee provides “Smoke Free Property” signage for anyone wanting their multi-unit housing to be recognized for being smoke free.

“There’s a fear of alienating resident smokers, but most communities that have taken the leap consider smoke-free housing an edge over the competition and have determined that there is a market for this product’ according to Chip Tatum, the former Government Affairs Director for the Florida Apartment Association.

For property managers and landlords, smoke-free policies can have economic benefits. More than 80% of Floridians are non-smokers.  Many people who do smoke do not permit smoking in their homes.  Given these numbers, many properties have very successfully marketed their smoke-free policy as an amenity, not a restriction.   Smokefree policies can save money by eliminating the need to repair or replace carpeting, floors, fixtures, countertops or appliances damaged by burns or nicotine stains.  At the end of a lease, smoke-free units require less turnover time due to fewer preparation and repainting needs... Read More

CDC Infographic

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Okeechobee Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Says "Thank You CVS"
May 22, 2014

In observance of World No Tobacco Day the Okeechobee SWAT Chapter performed a Thank You project for our local CVS Store. 

The Okeechobee SWAT Chapter created 14 posters and obtained a total of over 700 signatures, to Thank CVS for stopping the sale of tobacco products in October of 2014. 

The SWAT students presented the posters to the local Store Manager, and stated that they wanted to recognize the store for taking the first step to stop the sale of tobacco products.  The SWAT youth recognized that although this might decrease their overall monetary profits from a business stand point, that it will be a step in the right direction when it comes to their customer’s health... Read More

Thank You CVS

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Okeechobee High School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Participates in Local D.A.R.E. Graduation
May 22, 2014

On May 22, 2014 four SWAT youth from Okeechobee High School, and the Tobacco Prevention Specialist for Okeechobee County, participated in the Okeechobee County DARE Graduation. 

The DARE Graduation was coordinated by the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office school resource officers, and the attendees of this event included all of the 5th graders in Okeechobee County that completed the DARE training. 

Because the local Tobacco Prevention Specialist has a strong relationship with the Sheriff’s Department, they decided to allow our SWAT club to have a booth at the graduation.   The SWAT youth educated the attendees on what the SWAT club stands for, some events that the SWAT club participates in, and how to join the club next year when they are promoted to the middle school... Read More

SWAT Club at DARE Event

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Florida Teens Win Top Awards Among
Youth Advocates Working Against Tobacco

Two Florida High School Students Were Honored in the Nation’s Capital
May 22 , 2014

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Magi Linscott, a Santa Rosa County high school student and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth advocate, was named the National Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. This is the highest award among the country’s top youth advocates working against tobacco.

Chandler Ash from Gilchrist County was named the Southern Region Youth Advocate of the Year. Both Florida teens were honored in Washington, D.C., on May 15 along with three other U.S. regional winners and a group winner. More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders attended the 18th annual gala to recognize these young leaders.

The Youth Advocates of the Year Awards honor outstanding young people who are among today's most effective leaders in tobacco control. These youth have fought hard to protect their generation from the dangers of tobacco by promoting tobacco prevention legislation, exposing tobacco marketing to kids, and keeping their peers from using tobacco... Read More

Florida Youth Advocates of the Year

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The Tobacco Free Partnership Sponsors the 2014 Okeechobee High School Grad Night
May 6, 2014

For the last 25 years Okeechobee has not had one death of a senior on graduation night and that is largely because of Grad Night. 

The community of Okeechobee has united once again to offer our best wishes to our high school graduates by hosting the annual all-night Grad Night celebration! The celebration is open to all graduating seniors and one pre-approved guest of their choice. 

Grad Night is organized by a local committee and supported by: the Okeechobee County Board of Education, The Okeechobee Educational Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee, Okeechobee Rotary Club, and the Children’s Services Council of Okeechobee. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County was honored to help sponsor this year's event, which creates a drug-and-alcohol free event for local high school graduates... Read More

@014 Grad Night Sponsorship

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Students Working Against Tobacco Celebrate Through With Chew Week to Draw Attention to Smokeless Tobacco Use
February 20 , 2014

Quit Doc Research and Educational Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida encouraged local residents to learn the facts about the harmful effects of using smokeless tobacco and to make a plan to stop using these products. To help raise awareness, Quit Doc Research and Educational Foundation observed Through With Chew Week from February 16-22.

Osceola MS SWAT

Osceola Middle School SWAT students also observed Through With Chew Week by handing out cards to students that has the 3 Ways to Quit Information along with a picture of the damage that smokeless tobacco can have on your smile.

TWCW Palm Cards

Compared to the decrease in youth cigarette use, there has not been a significant change in the use of smokeless tobacco products among youth in the state. In 2013, 5 percent of Florida high school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco products compared to 5.1 percent a decade ago (Florida Youth Tobacco Survey).

However, rates of youth smokeless tobacco use are significantly higher in Okeechobee County.  During the 2012 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, in which county-specific data was collected, the rate of smokeless tobacco use among 8.5% of Okeechobee County high school Students reported current use of smokeless tobacco products.  More alarming was that 6.6% of Okeechobee middle school students reported current use of smokeless tobacco, nearly three times higher than the state average of 2.3%...
Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership educates Okeechobee Kiwanis Club on Electronic Cigarettes
January 23 , 2013

On January 23, 2014, Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation co-founder, Dr. Barry Hummel, educated the Okeechobee Kiwanis Club on issues surrounding electronic cigarettes.

The presentation discussed the introduction of electronic cigarettes to the United States in late 2007, and the early lawsuit brought by the e-cigarette industry to have the products classified as tobacco products instead of drug delivery devices for purposes of FDA regulation (Sottera v FDA).The FDA did not appeal the decision, and announced their intent to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products in April, 2011. However, since that time, the FDA has not issued any regulatory guidelines... Read More

Kiwanis Presentation
From L to R: Kiwanis Club President J.D. Mixon, Dr. Barry Hummel,
Okeechobee County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Courtney Moyett

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Courtney Moyett Joins the Quit Doc Team as the Tobacco Prevention Specialist in Okeechobee County
December 18 , 2013

The Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation recently named Courtney Moyett as the Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Okeechobee County, filling the void left by the departure of Candace Pope. Courtney will also be responsible for facilitating the Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee County, a coalition of community leaders working together on tobacco issues that affect the residents of Okeechobee County, particularly its most vulnerable residents: youth and senior citizens.

Courtney will have big shoes to fill! Her predecessor, Candace Pope, has built an amazingly strong coalition in Okeechobee County during her 18 months with Quit Doc.

Courtney Moyett

Candace recently resigned for personal reasons, but she intends to remain active on tobacco prevention issues in Okeechobee County as a member of the Tobacco Free Partnership. Before stepping down from her position, Candace actively recruited Courtney to fill the position to make sure that there was a smooth transition.

"I am very excited to become Quit Doc’s newest team member for Okeechobee County," said Courtney. "During the last year, I have worked as a community partner with Candace Pope, which will make for an exciting and smooth transition. I am well rooted in Okeechobee County, spending the majority of my time volunteering for many non-profits,  which will make it easy for me to hit the ground running.  I look forward to continuing the education, prevention, and treatment of tobacco in my community."
Read More

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Okeechobee County Students Working Against Tobacco Share Their Experiences with the Local Legislative Delegation
October 4, 2013

On October 4, 2012, representatives from the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter in Okeechobee County participated in the 2013 Okeechobee County State Legislative Delegation Meeting.

This annual meeting gives local constituents a chance to share their experiences with their representatives in the Florida Legislature. The Okeechobee Legislative Delegation consists of Senator Denise Grimsley, and Representative Cary Pigman.

The Okeechobee SWAT chapter was represented by four members: Nathan Ochoa, Carly Enfinger, Anna Warren and Fabiola Guzman. This was the first opportunity for each of these students to speak in front of the Delegation. During their speech, the students highlighted just a few of the SWAT and Partnership activities... Read More

Okeechobee Delegation
From L to R: Senator Denise Grimsley, Nathan Ochoa, Carly Enfinger,
Reprsentative Cary Pigman, Anna Warren and Fabiola Guzman

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Okeechobee Students Working Against Tobacco Chapter is Expanding for the 2013-2014 School Year
September 21, 2013

The Okeechobee Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter has already added two new Advisors for the new school year. 

Joining Trisha Jennings (Yearling Middle School), will be Susan Kuipers (Okeechobee High School) and Nicole Maciejewski (Osceola Middle School).  Susan and Nicole will be coordinating the SWAT Clubs at their respective schools, providing tobacco prevention information and fostering youth leadership skills among SWAT Club members.

Swat Advisors
Nicole Maciejewski (Left) and Susan Kuipers join the SWAT Team this fall.

The two women are passionate about youth tobacco prevention. Nicole was once a SWAT member herself, and Susan who lost a family member to lung cancer because of tobacco. They are  both ready to jump in and educate Okeechobee County youth on the dangers of tobacco use... Read More

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Frequently-Asked Questions About E-Cigarettes
By Tracy DeCubellis, M.S., Gilchrist County Tobacco Prevention Specialist
September 20, 2013

Recently, many people have come to me with questions about an emerging product on the market called e-cigarettes.  There has been a lot of confusion about e-cigarettes, and most people have limited information gathered from advertisements or word of mouth from friends. I have put together the most frequently asked questions about e-cigarettes, along with the answers, to inform communities with currently updated information. 

What is an e-cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a battery-powered nicotine delivery device that contains a cartridge filled with what the manufacturers often call “liquid”.  This “liquid” often includes candy flavoring, nicotine, and chemicals to create a “vapor”.  Most e-cigarette companies offer cartridges of differing nicotine levels, although no testing has been conducted to verify those claims. 

E-Cigarette Components

Are e-cigarettes considered tobacco?
The FDA has jurisdiction over tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, and has stated the intent to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product... Read More

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City of Okeechobee passes Resolution to Restrict the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products
May 7, 2013

On May 7, 2013, members of the Okeechobee City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging retailers to halt the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products that are marketed to youth.

The resolution is designed to give retailers some guidance regarding flavored tobacco products that are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"While the FDA banned the sale of all flavored cigarettes except menthol in 2009," said Dr. Barry Hummel, co-founder of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, "the FDA has not taken any specific steps regarding the sale of flavored cigars, spit tobacco, and electronic cigarettes. The FDA does have the authority to regulate these products, and is currently collecting information to determine the specific rules. This makes local action such as this important until the FDA issues its final guidelines." Read More

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SWAT Students from North Florida and Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation Produce a Short Film on the Issue of Flavored Tobacco Products that Target Youth
April 24, 2013

Students from six counties in North Central Florida joined forces to write and produce "Who is the Target", a short film that focuses on the use of flavored products as a youth marketing strategy by tobacco companies.

The Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation helped produce the film, setting up a temporary studio at their office in Ocala, Florida. The staff converted a spare office by suspending a simple blue screen from the ceiling. "It is the same technique used by your local weatherman," said Dr. Barry Hummel, who directed the film. "It allows us to put graphic information behind the students during the editing process to reinforce each point they are trying to make... Read More

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Students from Okeechobee High School Observe Kick Butts Day
March 20, 2013

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out and speak up against Big Tobacco.  Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from across the country organize events in their schools and cities to raise awareness to the dangers of tobacco use and encourage youth to stay tobacco free.

Okeechobee High School SWAT youth set up a booth and displayed signs and posters in their school cafeteria throughout the entire week of March 18-22. Over 150 students and staff signed pledges to remain tobacco free and more than a few former smokers visited the SWAT booth sharing their stories and encouraging SWAT members to keep fighting against tobacco.  Several tobacco users who expressed interest in quitting were referred to cessation services through Florida's "3 Ways to Quit" Program... Read More

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Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for Okeechobee County

The Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation has been awarded a grant from the State of Florida Department of Health to provide tobacco awareness and prevention programs throughout Okeechobee 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... Read More