News and Events

Indian River County Student’s Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Sets Sight on Tobacco-Free Parks
September 10, 2020

SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, is a youth coalition whose mission is to mobilize, educate and equip Florida’s youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our SWAT members will continue their mission as they fight against big tobacco and electronic cigarettes. SWAT student’s across the county are embracing the virtual format and setting high goals for the upcoming school year, with their sight set on creating tobacco-free parks throughout Indian River County.

Over the years, SWAT students have garnered knowledge on the dangers of tobacco and electronic cigarettes and are ready to put their knowledge into action. SWAT students know there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure and that the best way to protect communities from secondhand smoke exposure is through the adoption of tobacco-free policies. Students are determined to protect residents who visit parks and beaches from the dangers of secondhand smoke by ensuring those environments are tobacco-free. Students will spend the year cleaning tobacco litter at parks, creating presentations, and meeting with community members to share their cause.

In addition to their tobacco-free parks project, SWAT clubs across the county will be participating in ‘Not A Lab Rat’ Day on October 19th. SWAT students will focus on educating their peers on the dangers of electronic cigarettes and encourage them to commit not to be Big Tobacco’s Lab Rats and live tobacco-free. The Indian River SWAT Chapter currently meets every second and fourth Tuesday at 7:00 for students who are interested in joining. For more information on SWAT or to get involved, please contact Kyleigh Savoie at


City of Vero Beach Raises the Age for Tobacco, Vaping Products to 21
August 18, 2020

The City Council of Vero Beach approved a city-wide ordinance on August 18, 2020, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone younger than 21 years old within the City of Vero Beach.

The ordinance amends Chapter 73 on Tobacco Products, expanding the definition of tobacco products to include any product derived from tobacco or nicotine, including electronic cigarettes. The ordinance encourages all retailers where tobacco products can be purchased to display signage of the age requirement. In addition, the ordinance reaffirmed the Clean Indoor Air Act and encouraged businesses to install signs prohibiting the use of tobacco products indoors.

The changes to the previous tobacco ordinance reflect an effort to address the ongoing youth vaping crisis. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, one in four high school students and one in ten middle schools have reported current use of an e-cigarette device (1). Electronic cigarette devices typically contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals. These products became popular among youth due to their availability and flavors.  The long-term effects of e-cigarettes remain unknown; however, nicotine use in adolescence is not safe (2).

The efforts of the City Council reflect the City’s interest in reducing the availability of these products to youth and promote health and safety among residents. The City Council approved the ordinance by a 5-0 vote. Read More


Congratulations to Our Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Graduates!
June 17, 2020

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County would like to congratulate the graduating members of the Indian River County Chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (S.W.A.T)! We wish all of you the best as you start the next chapter of your lives!

Josue Gutierrez -------------- Jeralyn Aparicio Alvaro -------------- Huaman-Ruiz


The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River Brings Awareness to World No Tobacco Day
May 31, 2020

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County is educating residents in Indian River on the dangers of youth nicotine use and the manipulative tactics used by tobacco companies for this year's World No Tobacco Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World No Tobacco Day annually around the world on May 31. This year's theme is "Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use."

The Tobacco Free Partnership educated community members on this year's theme. The education provided highlighted industry tactics to attract youth to their deadly products through advertising at the retail point of sale, print and television advertisements, and kid-friendly-flavors and packaging. Studies have shown that youth who are exposed to tobacco advertisements are twice as likely to start using tobacco products. The Partnership focused on providing education on not only industry tactics but the current products that are attracting youth, electronic cigarettes.

Youth vaping has become an alarming public health threat in Florida and here in Indian River. In 2019, one in four of Florida high school students reported current use of electronic cigarettes.  E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.  Youth may be more sensitive to nicotine since the brain continues to develop until the early to mid-20s, and the developing brain is more vulnerable to the negative effects of nicotine. Evidence suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes may be at higher risk of starting to smoke regular cigarettes. Read More


The Importance of Point of Sale Tobacco Advertising on Youth Tobacco Use
May 15, 2020

You have probably seen countless retail locations that look like the one pictured above. You can probably name several local places that are littered with tobacco advertisements throughout the outside, on the windows, on gas pumps, or indoors.  Tobacco advertisements at retail locations have become commonplace, and that is a problem. The tobacco industry spends 9.5 billion dollars a year marketing its products, with a majority of that budget allocated at the point of sale. In Florida alone, the tobacco industry spends 600 million dollars (1). With this money, the tobacco industry can control every aspect of the advertisements that you see at the store, from the location, types of ads, and even pricing (2).

These industry tactics have a purpose; to attract youth users to their products. Youth who are exposed to advertisements at the retail point of sale at least twice are week are twice as likely to start using tobacco products (3). One of the products that have grown in popularity among youth has been electronic cigarettes. Currently, one in four high schoolers reports using an electronic cigarette device (4). The significant reason for the popularity of these devices is the use of kid-friendly flavors and packaging. Flavors are often listed as one of the top three reasons for youth trying these products (5). These tactics, coupled with advertisements close to schools and high retailer density, contribute to an increased risk that youth will start using tobacco products. Read More


A Letter to Parents and Educators:
The Youth Vaping Epidemic

April 15, 2020

As we adjust to our new normal and daily routines, it can be easy to sideline the challenges we had during the school year. While it might be on the sidelines, the youth vaping epidemic has not gone away. According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, one in four high school students and one in ten middle schools have reported current use of an e-cigarette device.

Electronic cigarette devices typically contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals. The aerosol that users inhale from an e-cigarette can contain cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. The long-term effects of e-cigarettes remain unknown; however, nicotine use in adolescence is not safe. The brain continues to develop until the age of 25. The developing brain makes youth more vulnerable to the effects of nicotine, which include effects to impulse control, attention, learning, and mood.

While students remain at home and continue distant learning, we must be aware of the effects of electronic cigarettes. Progress continues to be made through policy change, but there is still more to be done. New disposable products, such as Puff Bars, Stig, and Smok, have become popular among youth since they are not covered under the FDA flavor restriction.

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SWAT Prepares to Take Down Big Tobacco!
March 18, 2020

Students Working Against Tobacco in Indian River County are not going to fall for Big Tobacco’s tactics. Students across the county have been learning about the harmful effects of nicotine and tobacco use from Indian River County community health leaders. This month, SWAT youth were visited by the Respiratory Care Team from Indian River State College. Youth received hands-on education regarding the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use on the lungs and learned about the treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

SWAT youth are dedicated to being the next tobacco-free generation and are supporting Tobacco-Free Kid’s Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action on March 18. Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action is a day of activism for students, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens to stand up to Big Tobacco and their involvement in electronic cigarettes. SWAT youth have spent the school year learning about the dangers of electronic cigarette usage and will now use their knowledge to educate peers on the importance of standing up to Big Tobacco.      

According to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, one in four high schoolers reported past 30-day usage of electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes produce an aerosol, not “water vapor,” and can contain harmful chemicals, nicotine, and heavy metals. One of the more popular brands of e-cigarettes, JUUL, has as much nicotine as twenty cigarettes. The long-term health effects of these products are not known; however, SWAT knows that nicotine is harmful to the developing brain. Read More


The Importance of Tobacco Free Environments
March 11, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four nonsmokers in the United States are exposed to secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, and exposure can cause irreparable harm to those exposed. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of respiratory diseases, asthma, and ear infections. For adults, exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke. For electronic cigarettes, the aerosol produced contains known harmful chemicals; however, the long term and secondhand effects of these products remain widely unknown.

The best way to protect communities from secondhand smoke exposure is through the adoption of tobacco-free policies. Previous tobacco-free environment policies show reduced exposure among visitors, improved air quality, and improved health for people who were once regularly exposed. In addition to protecting adults and children, tobacco-free policies can address tobacco-related litter, the number one littered product globally.  Adopting a tobacco-free policy can also decrease the use of tobacco products and increase the use of cessation services among current smokers.

Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for 480,000 annually. Tobacco-free environment policies can greatly benefit worksites, multi-unit housing, and community spaces and events that chose to adopt a comprehensive policy. A complete tobacco-free policy should include combustible tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco products. Read More


The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
By Tracy DeCubellis
December 11, 2019

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 Center for Disease Control, 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).

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).

A worksite wellness trend in the U.S. is companies providing expanded services for employee wellness programs. In fact, recent studies show that 74% of businesses are considering increasing programs (4). Seventy percent of employers who have established wellness programs found them to be cost-effective (5). The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County is partnering with local businesses in their efforts to expand wellness programs and assisting with tobacco-free worksite policies. Read More


We Are Not Big Tobacco’s Experiment. We are SWAT!
October 16, 2019

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) clubs across Indian River County participated in ‘Not a Lab Rat’ day on October 16, 2019. ‘Not a Lab Rat’ Day is a statewide initiative for SWAT youth to take a stand against Big Tobacco. SWAT’s goal is to bring awareness to e-cigarette use among youth, encourage youth to stand up against Big Tobacco and the e-cigarette industry and to push for change within their communities.

E-cigarette companies use the same tricks, including flavors and marketing campaigns, tobacco companies used for decades to target and recruit young smokers. (1) Not a surprise considering Big Tobacco companies own or have significantly invested in e-cigarette companies. (2) These are the same tobacco companies that for decades lied about the addictiveness and health effects of cigarettes. (3)

These products have become popular among Florida youth. Currently, one in four high schoolers and one in ten middle schoolers have used an electronic cigarette in the past thirty days. (4) Not only do these devices contain nicotine, which is harmful to the developing brain, but the long-term health effects of these devices are unknown. (5)
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Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs are Preparing for a Busy School Year!
September 1, 2019

As students returned to school last month, students were looking forward to the new year of SWAT meetings and activities. SWAT clubs will resume meetings this year at Oslo Middle School, Gifford Middle School, and Sebastian River Middle School. SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, is a youth coalition whose mission is to mobilize, educate and equip Florida’s youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco.

In recent years, Indian River County SWAT Youth have organized beach clean-ups, participated in meetings with decision-makers, and participated in proclamation hearings. This year, our SWAT members will continue their mission as they fight against big tobacco and electronic cigarettes with the ‘Not A Lab Rat’ campaign. Not a Lab Rat’ Day will be celebrated on October 16th. This activity will educate peers on the dangers of these products. Three SWAT clubs will resume meetings this year at Oslo Middle School, Gifford Middle School, and Sebastian River Middle School.

Oslo Middle School SWAT holds their first meeting of the new school year!

In addition to the three existing SWAT Clubs, Indian River County SWAT has partnered with Substance Abuse Free Indian River (SAFIR) to create a high school youth coalition aimed at addressing substance use in adolescents. This SWAT Chapter met several times over the summer and continues to meet every Tuesday night. Recently the students elected six new leaders who will organize and promote the organization. The club has 15 dedicated students from Vero Beach High School, Indian River Charter High School, and Sebastian River High School. Read More


Tobacco Free Partnership Set Goals for 2019-2020
August 15, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County will continue their work from previous years. Goal areas include creating tobacco free environments, decreasing tobacco and electronic cigarette use in public and private recreational environments and events, and pursuing policies relating to electronic nicotine delivery systems.

One of the primary concerns of the tobacco-free partnership is youth access and usage of electronic nicotine delivery systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four high school students has admitted to using an electronic cigarette device. The partnership is continuing their efforts to educate youth, parents, and decision-makers surrounding the dangers of these devices.

In their efforts to educate decision-makers about the dangers of electronic cigarettes, tobacco-free partnership members spoke to individual county commissioners about tobacco retail licensing.  The goal of a tobacco retail license is to allow individual counties to control how tobacco and nicotine products are sold within the county and limit youth access to harmful products. Tobacco retail licensing is one of the policy goals for the Tobacco Free Partnership this year, as well as for other Partnerships across the State.


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Tobacco Free Partnership Celebrates its Partners!
May 10, 2019

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County had a lot to celebrate at its Annual Luncheon on May 10, 2019 at the Green Marlin Restaurant.

Attending were fifteen Partners representing 11 organizations; the Sebastian Police Department, Cleveland Clinic, the Department of Health, QuitDoc Foundation, the School District of Indian River County, LifeSkills Program, Treasure Coast Community Health Center, Plan B Business Solutions, Healthy Families Florida, Substance Abuse Free Indian River, and School Health. Partners enjoyed a short program reviewing achievements and the increasing number of tobacco free environments in the County.

  Several Partners were recognized for individual contributions that led to a successful year. Michelle Bollinger, Cleveland Clinic, was recognized as the Partner of the Year. Because a new position will prevent Michelle from volunteering in the future, she was recognized for all she did this year as well as in the past; leading strategic planning sessions, connecting the Partnership with doctors in the community, initiating GASO activities at the Scully Welsh Cancer Center and hospital, calling in to annual planning meetings when she could not leave her office, asking for direction and taking time to perfect her speeches to elected officials; and taking time off from work to speak at Indian River’s State Legislative Delegation meetings and County Commission meetings.    

Several years ago, Michelle was instrumental in leading Indian River Medical Center’s tobacco free policy committee that resulted in 100% tobacco free grounds. Her passion and leadership will be missed at Partnership meetings! Read More


Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County Celebrates Tobacco Free Florida Week
April 18, 2019

In December 2018, The US Surgeon General declared Youth Vaping an epidemic. In response, Indian River County’s 2019 Tobacco Free Florida Week focused on Youth Vaping, an E-Epidemic. In fact, this was the theme in all sixty-six Florida Tobacco Prevention Programs!

Since each County’s Tobacco Prevention Program is unique, all media collateral was developed by the State’s Media vendor for use across the state.  Indian River’s Tobacco Free Partnership chose to use the Youth and Vaping one page and two-page flyers and the FaceBook banner.

Partners from the Department of Health posted flyers in several areas around the patient clinics, employee water fountains, and in the bathrooms. Sebastian River High School distributed them to staff, Chamber members, and parents who attended a Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the new Wrestling Room at the high school. The grantee emailed or passed out flyers to over 200 people including government officials, School District Administration, the Executive Roundtable, SAFIR Coalition, HR Association, and SHAC. Treasure Coast Community Health posted them at their adult, pediatric and family clinic locations. Cleveland Clinic distributed the flyers to staff as did the American Cancer Society.

Top Row: Commissioners Flescher, O’Bryan, Solari, Adams, and Zorc. With County Attorney Reingold and County Administrator Brown; Bottom Row: Partnership Member Marie Blanchard and SWAT student Jessica Romano with Leslie Spurlock, QuitDoc TPS.

County Commissioners issued a Proclamation recognizing Tobacco Free Florida Week and read facts from the Youth E-Epidemic campaign. A SWAT student and Partnership members all spoke about the harms of youth e-cigarette use. Proclamations are seen on a local TV channel and taped for future viewing by the public. It’s a great way to gain support from decision makers and the public. Read More


Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) & The Tobacco Free Partnership: Making a Difference Together
April 1, 2019

Members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County and SWAT (Student Working Against Tobacco) continuously seek ways to make a difference in our community. Youth may want a cleaner environment that saves birds and animals. Adults may want to eliminate health hazards of secondhand smoke or aerosols. When they work together the outcomes can be amazing!

Partnership members and SWAT youth are provided collective opportunities to share their knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco use with State Legislators, County Commissioners, and City Councils. They use tobacco observances like World No Tobacco Day, Through with Chew Week, Kick Butts Day, Great American Smoke Out, and Tobacco Free Florida Week to educate decision makers and the public about environmental policy solutions and cessation opportunities for individuals.

Pictured at the January 2019 Legislative Delegation Meeting: TFP members Marie Blanchard, Michelle Bollinger, and speaker SWAT student Jasmine Romano, with TPS Leslie Spurlock.

During these speeches and proclamations, many people are educated in the audience and via local television. As an example, a School Board member, the Superintendent, and the Director of the Education Foundation are in the attached photo at the Legislative Delegation meeting. People listen, especially to the students who speak from the heart and have first hand knowledge to share. Read More


SWAT Skills Can Last a Lifetime!
March 19, 2019

This story is about a young man, Pedro Bernabe, his recollection of middle school, and how SWAT skills he learned as a teen impacted his decisions later in life. He moved to another home and another school in the middle of the 6th grade. He was the new kid. The other students had established friendships and he had no one. English was a new language. Other students thought his clothes and shoes were strange, so they bullied and teased him for being different.

  Pedro did not fit in. He wasn’t like the other students. He had little in common with other kids, so making friends was hard.  It was a lonely existence until he made one friend who talked about a club called SWAT. Going to SWAT was interesting. The SWAT Advisor, Mrs. Blanchard was kind, but firm. He would skip class and go talk with her to get away from the classroom and its bullies. She gave him the support he needed and sent him back to class with new hope and confidence. He was learning new coping skills, to resist the pressure to use tobacco, to be himself, to lead the SWAT Club when asked, and so he continued to participate in SWAT. SWAT skill building and the Club’s anti-tobacco activities made him feel like he belonged to something bigger than himself. He participated in SWAT for two and a half years with Mrs. Blanchard.    

High school brought on a new set of challenges and problems. Finding himself in another new environment left him vulnerable. Peers pressured him to try marijuana and cigarettes. With his knowledge and skills learned from SWAT he resisted tobacco and marijuana, as well as alcohol and other drugs. Nevertheless, he fell in with a bad group and started doing things that were not good for his future. Read More


Indian River County Creates Tobacco Free Environments in Parks
January 15, 2019

Why consider creating a tobacco free environment? Indian River County decided to make a significant difference in the lives of residents and visitors in January 2019. Believing that a fundamental purpose of local governments is to promote, protect, and improve the health, safety and general welfare of its citizens and visitors, Indian River County Commissioners deliberated how tobacco use in recreational and leisure facilities negatively impact people and the environment.

After having individual meetings with SWAT members in late 2018, all five Indian River County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a Resolution on January 15th that created tobacco-free environments in all county parks and recreation areas. Thanks to Commissioners Adams, Flescher, O’Bryan, Solari and Zorc for supporting health and taking this step towards reducing the community’s exposure to tobacco.

Because the FDA considers electronic cigarettes to be tobacco products, the Resolution includes both traditional tobacco products and electronic nicotine dispensing systems. Not to be confused with an ordinance or rule, the Resolution requests people to refrain from smoking in parks and recreation areas for a number of reasons.

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death. Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen and it puts children in danger of respiratory diseases, asthma and ear infections. Half of all regular smokers will die of a tobacco related illness. Toddlers or wildlife that pick up liquid nicotine pods or cigarette butts may become sick or die from what remains of nicotine or other chemicals. Bacteria or viruses from users can spread via residue from spit tobacco. Electronic cigarettes emit aerosol, not water vapor. They have been known to explode and not enough is known about long term negative effects of using ENDS. Tobacco butts are still the number one littered item in the world and Indian River is no exception. Any tobacco use in recreational environments and facilities sends a contradictory message to people who are using parks for activities that are beneficial to their health.


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Definition of Ad·vo·ca·cy:  The Act or Process of Supporting a Cause or Proposal
By Leslie Spurlock
December 11, 2018

This story is about what can be achieved by advocating for something you believe in.

Several months ago, Beth Dingee, a Tobacco Free Partnership member, Kayla Hershberger and Genevieve Presti, students from Indian River County’s SWAT Chapter, met with each of Indian River’s five County Commissioners to advocate for smoke and aerosol free parks and recreation areas. They asked Commissioners to end smoking and vaping at all the County’s parks.

Commissioners learned a lot about why eliminating tobacco from parks and recreation areas is a good idea. The students told Commissioners how secondhand smoke and aerosol from vaping contain some of the same toxic chemicals and nicotine, and that it is harmful to humans and the environment. It was evident these girls knew the consequences of secondhand smoke/aerosol and were passionate about the need for clean air, especially for children and wildlife who have no say about whether people smoke or vape near them.

Additionally, cigarette butts are harmful to the environment and are the number one littered item in Florida and the world. Tobacco from cigarette butts leaches toxins into soil and waterways. Over one million cigarette butts were collected from U.S. beaches and inland waterways during the Annual International Coastal Clean-up. Read More


Helping Employees Quit Tobacco
By Leslie Spurlock
November 15, 2018

Employees are a valuable resource in every business. 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.

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


Point of Sale Tobacco Advertising Impacts Youth Tobacco Use
September 19, 2018

Have you ever been tempted to buy the candy near your local store’s check-out counter? What product is on the door or windows of your neighborhood convenience store? When you’re pumping gas, what type of product is being advertised on or near the pumps? Chances are the product at the gas pump and convenience store is tobacco. All of these are examples of point of sale marketing. It creates impulse buying for that candy bar. But what if you quit smoking recently and you saw a wall of tobacco behind the cash register? What if you are a child and tobacco ads on that convenience store door are at eye level? Point of sale marketing is designed intentionally to seize attention. But who’s attention is being seized and manipulated? Exposure to point of sale can cause a relapse in adults who have quit, and although the majority of adults become resistant to advertising, tobacco ads with colorful packaging and flavors are noticed three times more frequently by children than adults.

Point of sale resonates with children. When they see so many tobacco products with bright packaging and flavors, they perceive it to be a normal and harmless activity. They are more likely to become curious as adolescents and try the product. 90% of adult smokers began using tobacco before age 18. That is not a coincidence. It is an intentional marketing practice. If children between the ages of 11 and 17 did not begin using tobacco, (including electronic cigarettes) the tobacco industry would be out of customers. Exposure to point of sale marketing is linked to tobacco use initiation among adolescents. They have increased odds of ever smoking, experimental smoking, initiation, and becoming a daily or occasional smoker.      

State and local law enforcement officers sometimes conduct underage sales of tobacco during sting operations for underage sales of alcohol. We need law enforcement to do that because it is a criminal offense. There are other violations, point of sale violations, that are considered administrative and are not monitored. Certain corporations that sell tobacco like Walgreens, 7-11, WalMart, Mobil, Shell, Chevron, Valero and others are bound by Assurance of Voluntary Compliance contracts to reduce tobacco access and desirability of tobacco to youth. In these AVCs, retailers must keep tobacco ads to brand name, logo, and price, keep them within the tobacco display area (not by gas pumps), keep tobacco behind a barrier so it’s inaccessible, not sell look-alike products, and keep tobacco away from other products that appeal to children. These are measures that reduce the influence of tobacco on our children, but who monitors compliance? Read More


SWAT Students Take the Lead on Tobacco Free Environments!
September 12, 2018

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) held its first 2018-19 Chapter leadership meeting this summer on July 30th.  Kayla Hershberger, Anna Woods and Genevieve Presti will continue to be leaders in their respective SWAT clubs this year. Kayla is President at Sebastian River High School and Genevieve is President at Sebastian River Middle School where Anna is Vice President. They learned about tobacco free environments and the negative effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke and aerosol. They also discussed the “Not A Lab Rat” campaign, a new statewide SWAT focus on dispelling lies about electronic cigarettes (or vaping). Plans were made for a Butts Off the Beach Clean-up and to meet with County Commissioners about tobacco free parks and recreation facilities.

In September, Kayla and Anna, along with members of the Tobacco Free Partnership, met with County Commissioners to talk about parks and recreation areas becoming Tobacco Free Environments. These two young ladies rocked it with factual, researched information and personal stories about the bad effects secondhand smoke and vape aerosol have on people, animals, and the environment. Not only is aerosol and smoke a breathing hazard, it also lands on plants, people and animals and has negative health consequences as thirdhand residue. Commissioners were duly impressed and invited the students to return for a Commission meeting with a presentation for them and the community. Most Commissioners expressed interest in tackling this issue... Read More


Secondhand Smoke and Children
By Leslie Spurlock
May 24, 2018

In 1952, before the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report linking smoking to cancer, Reader’s Digest published “Cancer by the Carton”, an article that resulted in the largest decrease in smoking since the great depression. Scientists continue to study the effects of smoking today. Not long ago secondhand smoke was not considered harmful. Now we know its effects contribute to 48,000+ deaths annually, the majority from coronary heart disease. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report warned the public of the dangers of smoking, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers. The Surgeon General’s 2006 Report, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke,” concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that, on average, children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than adults.

Children are significantly affected by secondhand smoke. Children’s bodies are still developing, and exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts them at risk of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs. Secondhand smoke is a known cause of low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, middle ear infections, and other diseases.*  Children exposed to a smoking adult get more fluid in their ears more often and have more operations to put in ear tubes for drainage. Children and youth are more vulnerable to involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke than adults.  

Although levels of secondhand smoke exposure declined between 1986-1984 and 1999-2004 in the general population overall, children were the sub-group with the least rate of decline.** In 2016, 53.9% of Florida youth (11-17) were exposed to secondhand electronic vaping aerosols or cigarette smoke. Unlike adults, children and youth do not have control over their environment when adults are smoking or vaping around them.

Young children are more often exposed to secondhand smoke at home or in a car. Cars even with a window open are small spaces where babies and children are closer to the smoker and smoke. An open window does not protect a child from exhaled smoke or secondhand smoke that lingers long after smoking has stopped and becomes thirdhand smoke. (More about that in another article!) Children in cars have no way to escape smoke or aerosol exhaled by the smoker or the smoke from a burning cigarette. After just half a cigarette has been smoked in a car, the quality of the air can reach levels 10 times over what the United States Environmental Protection Agency considers hazardous. Read More


Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County Holds Annual Recognition Ceremony
April 25, 2018

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County held their Annual Awards and Recognition luncheon at Osceola Bistro on April 25, 2018.

Each Partnership member represents an important segment of the community. Attendees were from the Sebastian Business Community, School District, Department of Health, Substance Abuse Free IR (SAFIR), SWAT Advisors and the QuitDoc Foundation. The School District continues to support and promote the activities of SWAT clubs. The business community supports events and speaks for the Partnership. SWAT Advisors lead youth, teaching them skills and the truth about tobacco and nicotine addiction. SAFIR works alongside the Partnership promoting substance free lifestyles to youth.

Members received a pin recognizing their leadership, commitment and dedication to reducing tobacco use in Indian River County. Marie Blanchard, long time SWAT Advisor and Department of Health employee, received a beautiful award in recognition of her leadership with SWAT, her assistance with monitoring retail outlets and her creativity for the Partnership’s Pets and Secondhand Smoke campaign this year. Marie designed the brochure, two posters and set up the process of distributing the materials to over 125 veterinarians, rescue organizations, groomers, and pet stores. Read More


Local SWAT Youth “Kick Butts” in March!
March 8, 2018

Kick Butts Day, an initiative of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, encourages youth to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing and stay tobacco free.

In Indian River County, the SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) Club at Sebastian River Middle School will be asking everyone to wear turquois to support them getting out the message about Big Tobacco marketing and Kick Butts Day. They are working hard to end tobacco use in their generation! Several students spoke to officials about why Kick Butts Day is so important. They received a Kick Butts Day Proclamation in a ceremony with Council Members from the City of Sebastian.

The tobacco industry uses deceptive marketing tactics to glamorize the use of tobacco including vaping products which contain nicotine. This marketing targets kids to be replacement smokers or vapers, especially adolescents who perceive (because of marketing) that vaping is not as harmful as smoking. Tobacco companies spend $558.8 million each year in Florida alone to aggressively market their harmful products to vulnerable populations, including youth... Read More


Let's Be Through With Chew!
February 13, 2018

Sebastian River Middle School’s SWAT Club is pledging to be the generation that ends tobacco! In February they received a proclamation from Indian River County Commissioners for Through with Chew Week. Because smokeless has long been identified with baseball players, students asked commissioners to ban ALL tobacco, smoking, vaping and chewing, from parks and playing fields. Students spoke about needing to breathe air without second hand smoke, litter caused by cigarette butts, cancer from chewing tobacco, and the powerful drug nicotine that is extremely addictive.

Indian River Students Working Against Tobacco Recieve a Through With Chew Week Proclamation from the Indian River County Commissioners.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for health, but smokeless products with appealing flavors are actually starter products for adolescents and youth. At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80% higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.  67% of youth who try tobacco by sixth grade become addicted to nicotine and become regular users.* Pro athlete and celebrity endorsements of smokeless tobacco products inspire youth initiation. Because smokeless can contain more nicotine than cigarettes, it is highly addictive. Unfortunately, it is also easier to conceal. Indian River’s high school smokeless use rate climbed from 5.9% in 2014 to 6.10% in 2016. While the state rate dropped to 3.7% in 2016, Indian River’s rate of 6.10% is now nearly twice the State average! Read More


The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
Tracy DeCubellis, M.S.
November 29, 2017

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 Center for Disease control, 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, unless an employer creates 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. Some counties and municipalities have laws regulating these products, but Florida does not restrict their use indoors.

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


Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth in Indian River County Actively Shared Their Message This Fall!
November 28, 2017

Indian River County SWAT students were busy attending training, taking to the streets and plastering schools with anti-tobacco poster messaging this quarter.

Nine SWAT youth from Sebastian River Middle School marched in the Sebastian River High School Homecoming Parade. Once the parade was over, their "no tobacco" messages were posted at school.

Sebastian River Middle School SWAT members Anna Woods and Genevieve Presti, also attended the Region 4 SWAT Training at Keiser University on October 14th. That day, over 30 SWAT youth from 13 counties (Indian River to Southwest Florida and the Keys) met for Take Down Tobacco training and to learn about the harmful effects of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS or electronic cigarettes), pipes, hookahs, and cigars. “It was not what I expected,” said Genevieve Presti, “it was much better than I expected!” Read More


What Makes a Tobacco Free Worksite Policy different today from Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act?
September 15, 2017

Passed in 1985, the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act had several requirements for worksites. When enacted it provided a uniform statewide code to regulate the use of cigarettes in enclosed indoor workplaces, as well as creating areas in public places and at public meetings that are reasonably free from tobacco smoke. The owner in charge of an enclosed indoor workplace is required by this statute, to implement an indoor workplace policy prohibiting smoking.  Originally the policy would prohibit an employee from smoking in the enclosed indoor workplace and it may have included procedures to be taken when there is a smoking violation. 

Why should today’s Tobacco Free Worksite (TFW) policy differ from a No Smoking policy mandated in 1985? Since the Clean Indoor Act was passed 32 years ago, a lot has changed. Can you imagine life without email, smart phones or FaceBook? The tobacco industry and what we know about the harmful effects of tobacco has changed too. New research shows tobacco use contributes to more cancers throughout the body, not just in the lungs or throat. Tobacco use, even secondhand smoke, constricts blood vessels so much, it increases heart disease, heart attacks, and causes strokes. The tobacco industry has made some tobacco products more addictive, making it harder to quit. The industry is rapidly developing new tobacco products which may not be covered by old policies. Since there are no studies on the long-term health effects of electronic smoking devices, today’s worksite policy should cover the use of electronic cigarettes. Disposable and refillable e-cigarettes are not the only new product on the horizon.  Phillip Morris recently submitted a new device to the FDA that heats tobacco leaves and produces vapor, not smoke. The device is called IQOS, which stands for “I Quit Ordinary Smoking”.

Just as other business practices have changed, policies should evolve and not remain stagnant. Standards in Human Resources for organizations, businesses, and non-profits have changed too. Employees are increasingly recognized as an organization’s biggest asset and employers are increasingly aware of the effects (think: costs) of employee health on their bottom line. Research shows us that 70% of people who DO smoke, want to quit. Add in the smokers who want to quit, to 84% (on average) or more employees who do not smoke, and you get a lot of support for a Tobacco Free Worksite policy that benefits all employees. Smokers are never required to quit, and some may never wish to quit. However, a policy that limits opportunities to smoke during working hours provides the opportunity for improved health. Read More


Community Tobacco Control is a Partnership
June 6, 2017

If you believe “it takes a village to raise a child”, then you should know it takes partnerships to create community tobacco control changes. QuitDoc’s Tobacco Prevention Program seeks partnerships to educate the community and inspire community members to implement tobacco control policies. These types of environmental tobacco controls (i.e. no smoking within 25’ of buildings) protect the health of everyone in the community, but they start with individuals who become partners with the Tobacco Prevention Program.

Some people become tobacco prevention partners because they are adversely affected by secondhand smoke and are intent upon making a change in their homes. Why should there be smoke-free multiunit (apartments and condos) housing? Did you know 84% of Floridians don’t smoke? Apartment and condo owners as well as property managers are also starting to take notice of the financial benefits of smoke-free units. A partnership can begin with the apartment manager repairing fire-damaged units started by careless smokers, or with one who believes in a tobacco policy, but doesn’t know how to get started. In either case, partnering with the tobacco prevention program provides owners and managers opportunities to develop tobacco control policies that will work best for their situation. Many identified smoke-free units in the County, are retirement facilities, but not all. Florida Baptist Retirement, St. Francis Manor, Brookdale, and Indian River Estates, all have policies prohibiting smoking indoors. Partnerships with apartment owners, like Steve Rennick and Suncoast Realty Management, resulted the adoption of 100% tobacco-free grounds policies as an amenity for tenants.

Who wouldn’t like to enjoy a little league game or recreational facility that is smoke and aerosol free? Governments and Recreation facilities are partnering with the Tobacco Prevention Program to learn tobacco control covers more than traditional cigarette smoking. Youth use of smokeless (dip or chew) tobacco that was traditionally linked to sports by the tobacco industry, has not decreased much over the past decade. And electronic cigarette use (vaping and exhaling the aerosol) has increased dramatically. After learning more about the harmful effects of these products, Historic Dodgertown and the City of Vero Beach have both embraced “no dipping, no vaping, no smoking” with policy signage at their ball fields and facilities. With the tobacco industry spending billions advertising at the point of sale, it is imperative that partners communicate their own anti-tobacco messages to ‘knock tobacco out of the park’! Read More


Indian River County Students Working Against Tobacco Kick Butts!
March 15, 2017

Local Students Working Against Tobaco (SWAT) kicked butts at Oslo Middle School and Storm Grove Middle School in March!

Kick Butts Day is recognized nationwide as a day to stand out, speak up, and seize control from the tobacco industry. Our local Students Working Against Tobacco showed their peers that tobacco, when used as intended, ultimately kills the consumer.

Whether chalking up the sidewalks at Oslo or creating visuals with empty shoes at Storm Grove, these teens keep busy telling their peers the truth about tobacco use.

Teens are targeted daily by the tobacco industry with flavors, cheap tobacco products, and in-your-face advertising, especially at convenience stores where teens regularly shop. Because most adults do not use tobacco, they don’t think about the advertising and how susceptible teens can be to messages from Big Tobacco.

Big Tobacco continues to promote products to teens online, in stores, and in magazines. Throughout the year, SWAT is the only vocal source of anti-tobacco messaging on campus fighting big tobacco’s messages that encourage teens to try tobacco.


If you want to start a SWAT Club at school, church or youth group, contact Leslie Spurlock, QuitDoc Foundation, at 772-577-3701 or


QuitDoc Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 10, 2017

Sebastian, 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. In Indian River County 3.2 percent of youth ages 11-17 reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2016, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. Indian River’s rate is higher than the state’s rate of 2.2. Of Youth 11-17, 2.2 percent used flavored smokeless tobacco.

“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, QuitDoc Foundation is coordinating Through with Chew events in Indian River County. The events take place during the week of February 17-24th with Students Working Against Tobacco planning events at Sebastian River High School and Oslo Middle School. Students will be raising awareness among peers through the “Smokeless is Not Harmless” campaign.  The Indian River County Commission will present a proclamation for Through With Chew Week during their meeting on February 21, 2017 at 9:00am. Read More


Local Partnership Advocates for Legislation to Prevent Secondhand Smoke In Cars with Children
February 1, 2017

Have you recently been exposed to second hand smoke in a closed space?

Tobacco control policies in Florida have all but ensured we can breathe clean air indoors when at work, play and traveling. What if you had to travel in a car with a driver who is smoking? That’s what thousands of children in Florida do every day.

Banning smoking in cars with children became priority one for Partnership members this year. Statistics are alarming. According to the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 53.9% of Indian River children are exposed to secondhand smoke or electronic vaping aerosols. Children in cars have no way to escape smoke or aerosol exhaled by the smoker or the smoke from a burning cigarette. Simply put, children traveling in vehicles with smokers do not have a choice.

The Surgeon General states there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. The solution is to eliminate smoke completely from the environment. Secondhand smoke exacerbates asthma, ear infections, and bronchitis. Nearly 50,000 people also die from the effects of secondhand smoke every year. Read More


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:


City of Vero Beach Receives New Signs to Reduce Secondhand Smoke Exposure
November 29, 2016

In 2012 the City of Vero Beach progressively passed a Resolution restricting smoking around children’s playgrounds and utilized signage to request compliance.

Leisure Square is the City of Vero Beach’s center of recreation programs for children youth and adults, and the facility’s no smoking signs were badly faded. Leisure Square offers year-long programs and summer camps using their facility’s swimming pool, meeting rooms, racquetball court, volleyball court, and ball fields. No Smoking signs were also “out of date”, not reflecting the use of smokeless tobacco or electronic cigarettes.

Policies and signs restricting the use of tobacco are a strategy to make tobacco use less socially acceptable which has a positive impact on decreasing youth tobacco initiation. QuitDoc and Tobacco Free Florida are focused on reducing the use of all tobacco products, especially smokeless tobacco products typically associated with ball fields and sports venues.

Jeff Matthews, Director of Recreation Programs for the City of Vero Beach, accepts new signs from Leslie Spurlock, Tobaco Prevention Specialist for Indian River County

Read More


Tobacco Free Florida and Tobacco free Partnership of Indian River County Encourage Tobacco Users to Quit on the Great American Smokeout on November 17, 2016
November 14, 2016

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

Tobacco Free Partnership will host a free event to raise awareness about 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 tool, including a 2-Week Starter Kit of nicotine replacement patches, Text2Quit, Email Tips and a Quit Guide. They can choose as many as they need or use them in addition to Tobacco Free Florida’s Phone, Group and Web Quit services. Read More


Indian River Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Participate in Local "Butts Off the Beach" Event
September 17, 2016

It was a beautiful fall day to clear the beach of litter!

A group of over 100 people including SWAT students, parents, Youth Guidance youth, their mentors, and Exchange members met for breakfast and clean up the beach.  The SWAT Chapter’s Butts Off the Beach initiative partnered with Keep Indian River Beautiful and Exchange Club of the Treasure Coast to clean up South Beach.

Although smoking has decreased in the U.S., cigarette butts are still the most littered item found on sidewalks, streets, boardwalks, beaches and parks. The SWAT Chapter’s Butts Off the Beach clean-up campaign proved it once again when everyone picked up more butts than any other item. Read More


What is SWAT?
August 30, 2016

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is Florida’s statewide response to the tobacco industry’s plan to recruit youth and teens as replacements for tobacco users who quit or die.

Because 90% of smokers begin using prior to age 17, the industry’s marketing strategies to lure youth are obviously working. The industry spends billions to market and manipulate teens and youth with flavored tobacco, price discounts, packaging and point of sale advertising.

Think about it... Why is tobacco flavored like candy? Are power walls of tobacco products behind the register placed there by intention? How do we effectively reach teens and youth with the answers? Peer to peer education works best. Youth and teens are the most creative and effective messengers.

SWAT focuses on exposing tobacco industry tactics designed to capture the attention of teens and youth. SWAT members are encouraged by adult advisors to do the research, develop the messages and, using their skills and creativity, deliver messages to peers. Read More


Local Spotlight: Condo Owner Fights Against Secondhand Smoke
By Leslie Spurlock
July 15, 2016

A condo owner for over 24 years, she had never had an issue as bad as this, and Ms. MT wouldn’t accept silence from the condo association as an answer.

For the first time in 83 years, her clothes, carpet and furniture reeked of tobacco smoke that was creeping into her apartment from the condo below. Throwing open windows did not relieve her difficulty breathing, nor did it help alleviate the stale smell of cigarettes smoked by the renter downstairs.

She turned to Tobacco Free Florida for help and was sent a packet of resources about the effects of second hand smoke. Using those resources, she learned that there is no acceptable level of second hand smoke. Secondhand smoke entering her apartment was not a trivial issue to her lifestyle or her health. It may precipitate asthma and may even trigger heart attacks in people with heart conditions. The only solution is eliminating it from your environment.

Armed with resources and knowledge, she addressed the condo association, asked the renter to smoke somewhere other than inside their apartment, and begged the apartment’s owner for assistance, but she was met with indifference.

Several months later, desperate to breathe clean air and to enjoy her apartment, Ms. MT retained a lawyer who intervened on her behalf. Read More



Tobacco Free Partnership Member Profile: Robert Johnson, III
June 3, 2016

What is it that makes Robert Johnson, III unique?

Besides driving a vintage car, Rob waited to contact our Tobacco Free Partnership until he was sure he had successfully quit using tobacco. It took years for him to be sure. He wanted to help combat the tobacco industry, but feared even talking about his past tobacco use might trigger a relapse.

Confident at last that he had successfully quit, he joined the Partnership in 2014. He was free from a cycle of tobacco use: an addiction that caused the death of both his mother and grandmother. He talked about their shared emotional history when he represented the Tobacco Free Partnership at a City Council meeting.

Rob also participated in Relay for Life 2015, and he readily stepped up when asked to lead the Partnership’s Relay for Life Team in 2016. Relay was well planned and executed, and as Rob said, “It will be even better next year.” Read More


Tobacco Free Florida Week Focuses on Secondhand Smoke
May 14, 2016

Tobacco Free Florida Week 2016 ended in Indian River County with proclamations and awards celebrating community support for tobacco control policies.

Tobacco Free Partners and businesses participated in three community-wide meetings.  Partners attended County Commission, Vero Beach City Council, and Sebastian City Council meetings, where the impact of being exposed to second hand smoke was emphasized in several proclamations.

Breathing even small amounts of secondhand smoke (SHS) can be dangerous.  In Indian River, 33% of middle school students are exposed to SHS at home and 17% of middle school students are exposed to SHS in public. Non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent, and their risk for stroke by 20 to 30 percent. Read More


Indian River County Youth Work Toward a Tobacco Free Future
March 14, 2016

VERO BEACH, Fla. – Indian River County’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) spoke up and took action against the tobacco industry for the 21st annual Kick Butts Day on March 16. This national day of activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

Middle School and High School SWAT students are celebrating Kick Butts Day by covering their schools with colorful Kick Butts Day posters. Their message includes taking a One Day stand against tobacco and mentoring students who want quit using tobacco. Fellow students were photographed holding posters after completing the sentence, "I’m Not a Replacement, I’m a ____."  Vero Beach High School SWAT is uploading them to social media using #notareplacment.

“Our schools are 100% tobacco free” said Deja Miller, Co-Chair of Vero Beach High School SWAT. “so the poster was updated and we emphasized mentoring because it increases someone’s opportunity to quit tobacco for good.” Read More


Tobacco Retailer Density Tells a Story
By Leslie Spurlock
March 1, 2016

VERO BEACH, Fla. – Why is it important look at the tobacco retail environment? Because tobacco use is the still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

75% of young people who start using tobacco before age 18 become the tobacco industry’s adult tobacco users. The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report tells us exposure to tobacco industry advertising and tobacco product displays increases youth tobacco initiation and makes it harder for current smokers to quit.

Tobacco retailer density is measured by the number of retailers per 1,000 people. In Florida the density per 1,000 youth is 7.2; in Indian River County, the density is greater at 8.2 per 1,000 youth.

No one, especially adolescents and youth, makes decisions in a vacuum, so the environment matters. 17% of Indian River’s tobacco retailers are within 1,000 feet of schools. Higher retailer density means easier access to tobacco and higher amounts of tobacco product advertising, tempting youth use initiation and making it harder for adults to quit.

Communities who want to reduce tobacco retailer density around schools and enforce local licensing rules are not prohibited from doing so by Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act preemption clause. It’s time to start thinking locally when it comes to protecting youth from the effects of tobacco retailer density. Read More


SWAT and the Tobacco Free Partnership Step Up During Through With Chew Week
February 16, 2016

VERO BEACH, Fla. –“The more nervous I am, the more my confidence builds and I know I’ll be O.K.” said Maaike’ VanLis.

During Through with Chew Week 2016, Maaike’, a teen SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) student, stepped up to the microphone to inform Vero Beach City Council members and Indian River County Commissioners what chewing tobacco can do to one’s health.

Members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian receive a Through With Chew Week Proclamation from the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners.

VanLis, a senior at Vero Beach High School, plans to enter college in the fall and take pre-med classes. Because knowing the first signs of cancer can help get people into treatment early, she displayed a photo of Leukoplakia, white patches in the mouth which can indicate that cancerous cells are forming. Read More


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

VERO BEACH, 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, QuitDoc, the Tobacco Free Partnership and the cities of Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Indian River County are presenting Through with Chew Week Proclamations. Proclamations will be received by members of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) and the Tobacco Free Partnership during regular council and commission meetings. SWAT students plan to educate elected officials about smokeless tobacco. The first will be presented at the City of Sebastian on February 10, 2016, at 6 pm. Indian River County will proclaim Through with Chew Week on February 16, 2016 at their 9 am meeting, and the City of Vero Beach will follow at their 6 pm meeting.

Although youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low, 5.9 percent of high school students in Indian River County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2014, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.  This is similar to the statewide 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


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


What is the Cost of Tobacco?
November 30, 2015

VERO BEACH – This quarter Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) learned tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the nation. Used as intended, tobacco is addictive and kills more people annually than murders, suicides, and accidents combined. Second hand smoke (SHS) is also deadly. There is no safe level of SHS and it kills nearly 50,000 people a year. 

Oslo Middle School students also wanted to know “What is the cost in dollars and cents?” What would the money spent on tobacco be able to buy instead?

Cost of Tobacco

In November Oslo Middle SWAT discovered the real cost of tobacco addiction.  Pictured is 8th grader, Isabella Sterke acting as scribe while the group discussed the price of buying a pack of cigarettes at an average cost of $5 per pack. Students were shocked to see how quickly $5 adds up when 1 or 2 packs a day are smoked. Smoking one pack a day over 10 days could buy a good pair of $50 tennis shoes! Over a year, two packs a day adds up to $3,650 and in ten years two packs a day adds up to $36,500 or enough to buy an SUV. If two people in the home smoke, the costs go up! Students concluded tobacco use is a huge waste of money. The money spent on tobacco could be used for shoes, clothes, video games, TVs, and a lot of fun activities. Read More


Participation in the Great American Smokeout Expands in 2015
November 19, 2015

VERO BEACH, FL — On November 19, 2015 more members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County and community businesses participated in the Great American Smokeout than in previous years. Partners at Indian River County, Piper Aircraft, Indian River Medical Center, Treasure Coast Community Health, and Quail Valley Golf and River Club displayed posters and encouraged employees to quit using tobacco.

Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit and Tell theme urges people to tell their Quit story.  Partner Ann Rankin, Benefits Administrator at the County, and a former smoker, told her story to co-workers. “I will not tell you it was easy”, said Rankin, “but I can tell you now it was so worth the effort.”

Indian River Medical Center hosted a Lung Cancer Discussion that included local doctors, a cessation instructor, and QuitDoc Foundation’s Dr. Barry Hummel. "It was an honor to be included as part of this esteemed group," said Dr. Hummel. "The panel was able to walk the attendees through the development, diagnosis, and treatment of lung cancer, as well as provide prevention and cessation strategies for concerned Indian River County residents."

IRMC Panel
Indian River Medical Center Panel (L to R): Mr. Bob Wright (Smoking Cessation Specialist); Dr. Mark Malias (Cardiothoracic Surgeon); Dr. Barry Hummel (Pediatrician, QuitDoc CEO); Dr. Hermes Velasquez (Pulmonologist); Dr. Diego Maldonado (Pulmonologist & Critical Care Medicine); and Dr. Raul Storey (Medical Oncologist)

Treasure Coast Community Center encouraged patients to quit. Piper Aircraft supported their employees by hosting cessation classes. New participant, Florida Veterinary League requested GASO posters and Three Ways to Quit information that were displayed for employees. Read More


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


Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Program is Off to an Early Start This School Year!
September 9, 2015

After a quiet summer season, the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter in Highlands County is kicking off quarter one with a BIG start!

Though the summer months seem slightly slower since school is out, there is still work to be done and this summer that hard work has paid off!  The SWAT Chapter has added an additional 3 High School Clubs to the mix!

SWAT Recruitment

Last year the SWAT Chapter had very active clubs at Avon Park Middle School, Hill Gustat Middle School, Lake Placid Middle School, and Sebring Middle School and while the clubs were very active, we knew we needed more! We are so very excited to announce that Avon Park High School, Lake Placid High School and Sebring High School will all be starting brand new clubs this quarter! Read More


SWAT Recruitment Event Kicks Off 2015-2016 School Year!
September 1, 2015

VERO BEACH – SWAT students and advisors made a strong start for 2015-16! In late August, youth and adults worked diligently to make SWAT’s Summer Outreach and Recruitment event a success. As a result, a new Advisor is starting a new SWAT Club at Storm Grove Middle School!

SWAT students and advisors spoke with over 150 youth and families attending a Back to School recruitment event hosted by the Indian River Education Foundation on the grounds of Riverside Theater August 22, 2015.

SWAT Recruitment Event
Nicholas and Luis Sanchez share information on the Indian River SWAT Chapter.

While recruiting efforts were successful in getting middle and high school students interested in joining SWAT, one adult was interested enough to start mentoring a new SWAT Club!  After speaking with Oslo Middle School SWAT Advisor Marie Blanchard during the event, Lateshia Henry, a teacher at Storm Grove Middle School became enthusiastic about starting Indian River’s newest SWAT club.  Asked what motivated her, Ms. Henry said, “It is one way I have of giving back to the community”. With her help, middle school youth will educate themselves and their peers about many different ways the tobacco industry manipulates youth into experimenting with their products. Read More


Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County appoints 2015-2016 Advisory Council
August 14, 2015

VERO BEACH, FL — The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County has appointed its 2015-2016 Advisory Council.  Advisory Council members assume a leadership role in tobacco control advocacy, prevention education, and policy change in Indian River County.

This year’s Advisory Council members include Michelle Bollinger, Indian River Medical Center, who has volunteered to Chair Partnership meetings this year; Robert Johnson, Tobacco Control Advocate from Sebastian; Nancy C. Johnson, Plan B Business Solutions; Christina DeFalco, Substance Awareness Center; Marie Blanchard, Florida Department of Health; Lillian Torres-Martinez, School District of Indian River County; and Beth Dingee, Healthy Families, IRC.

The Final Piece!

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County is dedicated to the creation of tobacco-free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy, and changes in local tobacco control policies.  The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County reflects the goals of the Center for Disease Control Best Practices, especially in regards to improving local tobacco policies that will promote tobacco-free social norms... Read More


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


Another Successful Year for the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County Draws to a Close
June 4 , 2015

Since QuitDoc began to manage the local tobacco prevention efforts in July 2012, the main goal of the Tobacco Free Partnership has been to increase the number of youth who do not use tobacco.

The good news is that youth tobacco initiation has improved over the past three years. The majority of middle school youth (98.7%) and the majority of high school teens (90.6%) in the 2014 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) did NOT use cigarettes. Over 73% of middle school students reported they were taught about tobacco use in a class at school and over 33% of high school students reported the same.

Tobacco Free Partnership

Quit Doc and its community Partnership took steps to prevent youth tobacco initiation, expand tobacco cessation opportunities, and decrease exposure to second hand smoke by incorporating one or more tobacco control tactics into community strategic plans and policies... Read More


Local Students Working Against Tobacco Continue to Make an Impact in Indian River County!
May 17, 2015

Congratulations to all Students Working Against Tobacco for increasing membership and activities this year!

SWAT kept busy speaking to legislators, writing letters, recruiting new members, seeking community speakers, and selecting officers and grade level representatives.

SWAT developed their own presentation pointing out how student advocacy, actions, and activities can help uncover the truth about tobacco and save their generation from a life of addiction.

Historic Dodgertown

SWAT youth were engaged learning about the effects of tobacco use from community speakers. They made posters thanking tobacco free businesses like CVS, Indian River Medical Center, Treasure Coast Community Health, Panera’s, Chive, and Starbucks. Read More


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 


Making a Difference through Indian River’s Tobacco Free Partnership
Leslie Spurlock, March 10, 2015

The entire community benefits when people who do dissimilar work organize as a Partnership and share their knowledge. Since 2012, Tobacco Free Partners have had the goal of increasing the percentage of youth who do not use tobacco. As reported in the 2014 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, their collective efforts are making a difference!

The results of the 2014 Youth Tobacco Survey of middle school and high school students show a 36% decrease in the percentage of Indian River youth that use any form of tobacco. Overall tobacco use in any form by 11-17 year olds decreased from 16.3% in 2012 to 10.4% in 2014.

The biggest decrease in the percentage of youth tobacco use came from Indian River middle school students whose use of tobacco in any form decreased from 7.4% to 4.3% in 2014, which is a 42% decrease! Read More

IRC stats


QuitDoc Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for Indian River County
February 6, 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 Indian River 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


Local Students Working Against Tobacco Speak Out!
December 9, 2014

Indian River Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members are busy learning and sharing what they have learned about the dangers of tobacco use.

Vero Beach High School SWAT President, Jesus Humberto Parada, spoke before Indian River County’s Legislative Delegation meeting held on December 5, 2014.  State Representative Debbie Mayfield, Senator Thad Altman, and Senator Joe Negron’s legislative staff attended the event at the Vero Beach City Hall.

Humberto Parada
Jose Humberto Parada addresses the Indian River County Legislative Delegation.

Many community members and government officials were present during Humberto’s speech, during which he shared the SWAT Chapter’s successes over the past year.  The Vero Beach High School SWAT club currently has 19 students who work together spreading anti-tobacco messages on campus and during school events. Their focus this year is recruiting more SWAT members, educating the student body about the dangers of new tobacco products, and sharing the connection between tobacco use and early death.  Humberto enlightened the crowd with examples of SWAT activities and asked for their continued support in keeping his generation tobacco free... Read More


The School District of Indian River County Updates Tobacco Free Policy for the 2014-2015 School Year
October 15, 2014

The School District of Indian River County recently updated its tobacco policy for youth and adults on school campuses and other school district property. The benefits of initiating a comprehensive tobacco control policy include reducing youth exposure to tobacco use, decreasing death,  reducing tobacco use, decreasing disease, preventing youth initiation, promoting adult role models, and providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone on every campus or school event at all times.

Pursuant to Board Policy 5512, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Florida. Most tobacco use begins before the age of eighteen. It is important that schools provide a safe and healthy learning environment, free from exposure to known carcinogens, and one in which adults are role models for healthy behavior. As school district personnel and school visitors serve as role models to students, comprehensive school policies are a necessary strategy to prevent youth initiation, as well as reduce tobacco use.

In order to provide the healthiest and safest environment possible 24 hours a day/365 days a year for students, district personnel, and visitors, the School Board passed a Tobacco Free Policy commencing with the 2012-2013 fiscal year. All uses of tobacco products in any form are prohibited in any School Board owned facility or vehicle, on School Board owned property, or at any School Board sponsored event. Students are prohibited from possessing or using tobacco products during school sponsored events whether on or off District property.

If a tobacco citation is issued by a School Resource Officer (SRO) it is mandatory that the students pay a civil penalty and attend a “school approved anti-tobacco program.” The anti-tobacco program is eight weeks and is offered at the Substance Awareness Center of IRC. Failure to complete this program or pay the civil penalty will result in the suspension of driver’s license or withholding of license... Read More


Indian River School District Amends Campus Tobacco Policy to Include Electronic Cigarettes and Other Vaporizers
August 18, 2014

You may not know a lot about new tobacco products, but you may see “vape” shops popping up around the County. 

Staying ahead of the increasingly popular tobacco product isn’t easy.  However the Indian River County School District’s amended tobacco policy now prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco including electronic cigarettes and vaporizers.  

To better communicate the policy to visitors, the District received “Tobacco Free Campus” signs from the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County that are being placed at all schools and District offices this year.

“No smoking signs have been around for decades”, said Leslie Spurlock, Indian River’s Tobacco Prevention Specialist... Read More

IRC Schools


Tobacco Free Partnership Business News: Chive Restaurant Creates Smoke-Free Patios!
August 15, 2014

84% of Floridians do not smoke, yet finding a restaurant that is smoke free both inside and outside is rare, even in our beautiful climate. Since 84% of Floridians do not smoke, a tobacco free property is an amenity that pleases the majority of customers.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County is proud to announce Chive Restaurant/Wild Thyme Catering is Indian River’s newest 100% Tobacco Free Business!

Chive Restaurant owners Travis Beckett and Lou Kolbauer display their tobacco free outdoor patio signs.

Owner Lou Kolbauer and Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Leslie Spurlock, developed a worksite policy eliminating employee tobacco use at work and increasing quit support.  “Employees are valuable and so is their health” said Kolbauer, “tobacco use also doesn’t mix with our belief in providing the freshest ingredients and healthiest dining experience for our customers”... Read More

College Volunteer Jennifer Stenback Organizes a SWAT Recruitment Activity
August 2, 2014

Jennifer Stenback, a senior at the College of Public Health at University of South Florida, recruited students for the Indian River Chapter of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) during the Indian River Mall Back to School event.  

Ms. Stenback informed parents and students that joining SWAT has many benefits that include earning volunteer hours, improving public speaking skills, gaining leadership skills and opportunities, changing local policies, and by participating in community events.

SWAT Recruitment

Ms. Stenback volunteered this summer with QuitDoc, helping on several projects with the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County... Read More


Indian River Students Working Against Tobacco Hosts "Wild About SWAT" Event
May 22 , 2014

Two of the four Indian River SWAT clubs participated in a Wild About SWAT Chapter event on May 22, 2014. 

After school, fifteen Fellsmere and Oslo SWAT students partnered for an informative afternoon at Jaycee Park in Vero Beach. Tobacco Free Partnership volunteers Brady Ballard (Historic Dodgertown VP) and Larry Spurlock manned the grill for a hungry crew of adolescents and adults.

Wild About SWAT

Volunteer Franny Watford, RN assisted SWAT advisors Marie Blanchard, Rasheedah Ahmad, and Maria Lopez with youth educational activities. After a team-building scavenger hunt where students from each club were paired up with someone they didn’t know, all students participated in "Tobacco Prevention Beach Ball". Tobacco knowledge was tested with questions located on the beach ball as it was caught. Students were very knowledgeable about the negative consequences of using tobacco and dangerous chemicals contained in tobacco... Read More


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


Residential Buildings in Indian River County are Going Smoke-Free
Policies Protect Residents From Secondhand Smoke and Smoking-Related Fires
May 16, 2014

VERO BEACH , FL – Smoke-free multiunit housing, a growing trend throughout the country, has made its way to Indian River County.

Several residential properties in Indian River County have implemented smoke-free policies for the entire property:

“Florida Baptist Retirement Center is a health conscious, Christian, non-profit,” said Sonya Crawford, RN, Director of Admissions and Outreach. “People appreciate being around other non-smokers, both residents and employees, who are living a smoke free life.”

Taking steps in the right direction are a growing list of properties that have chosen to become 100% smoke free indoors. These properties may ban smoking in enclosed hallways, pool areas, or other outdoor areas, but have chosen to provide designated smoking areas for residents, employees and guests. The list includes... Read More

CDC Infographic


Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County Helps Historic Dodgertown Create a Smoke-Free Athletic Facilities
April 15 , 2014

2014 proved to be an historic year for tobacco prevention in Vero Beach!

Historic Dodgertown, formerly one of major league baseball’s best spring training camps, now boasts numerous tobacco free signs and banners over 15 acres of playing fields and facilities.  The initiative between Historic Dodgertown, Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, Tobacco Free Florida, and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County informs visitors to abide by the new designated smoke free areas.

“We are proud to partner with Quit Doc, providing added exposure to young athletes, their families and the community about the dangers of smoking and tobacco products,” said Brady Ballard, Vice President of Historic Dodgertown. “Athletes often receive increased visibility amongst their peers and for their school. We hope that the message from Quit Doc will help influence them to be positive leaders in living a tobacco-free lifestyle.” Read More



Indian River County Teens Tell Big Tobacco:
We are Not “Replacements”

March 19, 2014

The tobacco industry is losing customers. Not only are more smokers quitting, every day, an estimated 1,315 people in the United States die because of smoking. 

In response, the tobacco industry targets a new generation of potential nicotine addicts, which they call “replacement smokers.” A 1984 internal document from R.J. Reynolds’, the makers of Camel, stated: “Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers… If younger adults turn away from smoking, the industry must decline, just as a population which does not give birth will eventually dwindle.”

On Kick Butts Day, Indian River County’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs spoke up and took action to let Big Tobacco know they will be not replacements. Kick Butts Day, which this year was celebrated on March 19, is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids national day of activism that empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County's focus this year is to increase the number of youth that do not use tobacco. The Partnership encouraged the County's SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) students to recognize Kick Butts Day, emphasizing the tobacco industry's deceitful marketing tactics, especially flavored tobacco products that targets kids. 

The Indian River County Board of County Commissioners acknowledged the hard work of SWAT and the Tobacco Free Partnership by issuing a Proclamation recognizing Kick Butts Day.  The Kick Butts Day Proclamation helped  to spread the students' anti-tobacco message to County Commissioners and other adults in the community. The Proclamation was accepted by members of the Tobacco Free Partnership on behalf of SWAT students who were in school during the Commission meeting.

IRC Commission

“The Partnership is proud of the way SWAT youth are opposing big tobacco's marketing tactics,” said Leslie Spurlock, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist in Indian River County.  “They are telling the truth about tobacco through peer presentations, discussions, and handouts, and in the process they are recruiting new SWAT members. The kids appreciate and need the support of adults who hold the key to tougher tobacco control laws that will save their generation.” Read More


Fellsmere Students Working Against Tobacco Share Information on Flavored Tobacco with City Leaders
March 6, 2014

The Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Club based in the Fellsmere Boys & Girls Club has been working hard recently on the issue of flavored tobacco products that target youth.

On March 6, 2014 five of these SWAT Club members were invited to tell Fellsmere's City Council, Police Chief, and other community members how the tobacco industry markets its flavored tobacco products to kids.  

The audience was shocked by tobacco industry memos that were read by SWAT youth. The memos, revealed during lawsuits in the 1990’s involving the major tobacco companies, confirmed how the industry developed flavored tobacco so it would appeal to kids.

Fellsmere SWAT
SWAT Youth present at the Fellsmere City Council.
From L to R: Damian Castro, Francisco Magana, Isabel Garcia, Claudia Monroy, and Evelin Garcia.

The SWAT students shared that their peers perceive flavored tobacco to be less dangerous than non- flavored tobacco. The students then shared with the City Council examples of flavored tobacco products and packaging that appear similar to candy containers. The students then expressed their desire to see all flavored tobacco taken out of convenience stores and put into smoke shops or other age-restricted stores... Read More


Indian River Medical Center Celebrates the Great American Smoke Out by Becoming a Tobacco-Free Campus
November 21, 2013

Indian River Medical Center (IRMC) became a tobacco-free campus November 21, 2013, coinciding with the annual Great American Smoke Out Day.

Working with CEO Jeff Susi and the Executive Management Team, members of the Tobacco Free Task Force planned strategies for an entire year to set policy, provide cessation services, and implement procedures for a tobacco free campus.  


For the health of employees, patients, and visitors, smoking or the use of any tobacco product is not allowed in any IRMC buildings or on any IRMC owned properties including parking lots, garages, and grounds.  Patients will not be allowed to leave the hospital to smoke or use tobacco at any time... Read More


City of Vero Beach, Florida Passes Ordinance to Restrict Youth Access to Electronic Cigarettes
November 19, 2013

On November 19, 2013 the City Council of Vero Beach, Florida voted unanimously to pass an ordinance to reduce youth access to electronic cigarettes.

The recently passed ordinance prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, and places the products behind the counter requiring retailer-assisted sales. The new rules match a similar ordinance passed by the Indian River County Commission on October 22, 2013.

Vero Beach City Council
Back Row: Councilmember Pilar Turner, Councilmember Amelia Graves, Mayor Dick Winger
Front Row: Councilmember Craig Fletcher, Vice Mayor Jay Kramer

Mayor Dick Winger reminded everyone upon opening public comment that "the idea... of the ordinance is to prevent the sale of these devices to those who are under 18 years of age. That is the intent of it."

During the commissioners' discussion leading up to the vote, Councilmember Pilar Turner spoke very passionately about the ordinance. "Obviously, this has been a great educational effort for me, and I think for most of the council, that we really were not aware of this electronic cigarette. In the past two months, the things I've learned, its absolutely frightening. If anybody hasn't seen the Wall Street Journal ad in talking about the hazards of these electronic cigarettes, and the incredible growth in the use of these electronic cigarettes among our youth... The cigarette companies are just switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes to addict our youth." Read More


Indian River County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs Begin Their Projects for the 2013-2014 School Year
Fall 2013

With the start of the new school year, the Students Working Against Tobacco program in Indian River County is back in action!

We are excited to have a new SWAT Club at Vero Beach High School.  This new club, a partnership between Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and SWAT, started out in October by walking in their Homecoming Parade. Just a week later, the club participated in the City of Vero Beach Halloween Parade.  During the Halloween parade Vero Beach high school and Oslo middle school SWAT had fun walking together. Students wore their SWAT t-shirts, carried the SWAT banner, gave out candy with colorful reminders of the School District’s tobacco free policy.

Halloween Parade

The Oslo Middle School SWAT club hit the ground running on their school campus as well. One of their early activities was to share their message to peers on campus during a “Not a Replacement” activity. Students drew chalk crime scene figures that symbolized victims of tobacco use. Oslo Middle School students learned how tobacco companies need them to replace the hundreds of thousands of tobacco users who die each year.  SWAT members were able to spread the message to students, teachers and visitors to campus. They insist their generation resist and say “I am NOT a Replacement”... Read More


City of Sebastian, Florida Passes Ordinance to Restrict Youth Access and Exposure to Electronic Cigarettes
November 13, 2013

On November 13, 2013 the City Council of Sebastian, Florida voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance regulating the sale, marketing, and use of electronic cigarettes throughout the city.

The recently passed ordinance prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18, places the products behind the counter requiring retailer-assisted sales, and restricts the use of e-cigarettes in public places where smoking is already banned. The rules on public use, designed to regulate e-cigarettes by following the rules of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, goes further than an ordinance by the Indian River County Commission on October 22, 2013.

Sebastian City Council
The Sebastian City Council (L to R):
Mayor Bob McPartlan, Andrea B. Coy, Jerome Adams, Vice-Mayor Jim Hill, Richard H. Gillmor

The lone dissenting vote was cast by newly-elected Councilman Richard Gillmor. "I'm
just kind of troubled by some of the language in this ordinance," said Councilman Gillmor. "I would not like to se us keep people from using our parks with the
electronic-type delivery. And I think that this ordinance... would do that." Read More


Ordinance to Regulate Electronic Cigarettes Passed by
Indian River County Board of County Commissioners

October 22 , 2013

On October 22, 2013, the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance creating rules on the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) that are comparable to the rules in place for other tobacco products.

The Indian River Ordinance restricts the sale of electronic nicotine delivery devices to those 18 years of age and older. The Ordinance also restricts the marketing and sale of these products in the same manner as traditional tobacco products, which includes placing the products behind the counter in retail outlets.

Indian River County Commission

Indian River County is just the second Florida county to address the issue of youth access to electronic nicotine delivery devices such as electronic cigarettes. The Ordinance fills a current gap in the regulation of this new class of drug delivery device... Read More


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


Local Senior Resource Center Scheduled to Become a Tobacco Free Campus
August 19, 2013

VERO BEACH – The Senior Resource Association (SRA), beginning September 1, will become a tobacco/smoke free campus at their Vero Beach and Sebastian with the help of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County.

The Senior Resource Association and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County conducted of a photo opportunity for all media and related agencies on August 19 at the Vero Beach SRA campus.

Tobacco related diseases are the leading cause of death in Florida. Both smokers and nonsmokers are affected. Toxins in secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmokers. Breathing secondhand smoke has an immediate effect on blood vessels, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack. Everyone, even smokers benefit when businesses become tobacco/smoke free... Read More


Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County
Sets Goals for 2013-2014
August 7, 2013

The Tobacco Free Partnership held its first meeting of the new fiscal year on August 7, 2013.  The Partnership reviewed and adopted new bylaws and defined its goals for the 2012-2013 school year. 

The Partnership's focus this year is increasing the number of kids who do not use tobacco. Strategies include providing student produced and Tobacco Free Florida PSAs for middle and high school Principals to play during morning announcements. 

The highlight of the meeting was a celebration for Partnership Member Doris Butler.  August 7 also happened to be Doris’ second anniversary of being tobacco-free!  Doris is an employee of The United Way of Indian River County, and has become their representative on the Tobacco Free Partnership.  She assists the Tobacco Free Partnership with planning, projects and meetings. She has become a passionate advocate of tobacco cessation and is interested in starting a Quitters Support Group.

TFP Celebrates Doris Butler

For more information on the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County, contact us at


Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Attend
Back to School Expo
August 3, 2013

Members of the Oslo Middle School Students Working Against Tobacco Club attended the Back to School Expo at the Indian River Mall in August 3, 2013.  The SWAT youth staffed a booth with information on youth tobacco prevention, talking to parents about tobacco industry tactics to get kids to try tobacco.  The youth also shared informational brochures on the issues of flavored tobacco and point-of-sale advertising in retail outlets.

The SWAT students also asked people to pledge to be tobacco-free by signing and writing messages on a Tobacco Free Florida poster.  The poster will be displayed at SWAT events in the future... Read More ___________________________________________________________________

Winners of Anti-Tobacco Video Public Service Announcement
Contest Selected on May 14, 2013

By Dr. Barry Hummel, Jr., Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation

On May 14, 2013, the winners of a local anti-tobacco video PSA contest were selected by the television broadcast team of the Orlando Magic.

First Place went to "Stomp on the Butt", which was produced by Abi Lamm, Edward Nicolace, Ryan Roscoe, Chris Sanchez, and James Talley of Storm Grove Middle School in Indian River County, Florida... Read More


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, 2014

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


Students Working Against Tobacco Youth join the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County at the Annual Hibiscus
Festival in Downtown Vero Beach

April 13, 2013

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County was one of 100 vendors lining 14th Avenue in historic downtown Vero Beach to celebrate the annual Hibiscus Festival, presented by Main Street Vero Beach and the City of Vero Beach.

The historic festival launches with the Miss Hibiscus Pageant, followed by an all day festival that includes a 5K race, entertainment, live music, children's activities, dog parade, art show, Chinese auction, marketplace booths, shopping cart parade, a myriad of food vendors.

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) from Indian River County took the opportunity to share information on the issue of flavored tobacco products that target youth, and collected survey data on possible local solutions to the problem... Read More


Indian River County Students Working Against Tobacco Learn the Harmful Effects of Tobacco Products

The last few months have been very busy and exciting for the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) program in Indian River County.

At Oslo Middle School, SWAT learned about healthy and unhealthy lungs from Rob Walsh, an instructor at Indian River State College. Mr. Walsh brought lungs to school and demonstrated a vibrating vest that is used to clear up mucous from patients’ lungs. Students were able to touch the lungs and try out the machine! Read More


The City of Vero Beach Issues a Proclamation Encouraging Retailers to Restrict the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products That Target Youth

On February 19, 2013, The City Council of Vero Beach issued a Proclamation encouraging local education on the issue of flavored tobacco products and urging retailers in Vero Beach to restrict the sale of those products that target youth.

"I was astounded when Leslie came to talk to me about her report on where we are with tobacco use, and I was just stunned on some other issues," said Vero Beach Mayor Craig Fletcher prior to reading the proclamation dealing with the sale of fruit-flavored and candy-flavored tobacco in local convenience stores. "Youth in Indian River County may be particularly susceptible to flavored tobacco products. Specifically, over 24% of Indian River County high school youth have used one or more tobacco products in the past thirty days, and use tobacco products at a significantly higher average rate than the youth in the State of Florida." Read More


Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for Indian River 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 Indian River 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