News and Events

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.

SWAT Booth

The SWAT youth used lollipops to generate interest in the issue of flavored tobacco, and the heavy toll tobacco takes on people in the United States.  Since one out of five deaths in the U.S. is caused by a tobacco related disease, the SWAT youth marked 20% of the lollipops with a red stripe.  SWAT youth then asked people to pull a lollipop out of the basket, and used the statistical chance of dying from tobacco to gain their interest in talking about the effects of tobacco use. 

200 people visited the Tobacco Free Partnership tent and participated in the survey.  Even the newly-crowned Hibiscus Queen and her Court came by to sign the banner and have photos taken.  Eight people also expressed a desire to quit smoking and walked away with encouragement and brochures for Florida’s free “3 Ways to Quit” program.

SWAT Booth

“Collecting this kind of data provides us with two opportunities,” said Leslie Spurlock, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist for Indian River County.  “It allows us to engage and educate citizens about the issues, and provides those citizens with a way to show their elected officials that the public wants effective policies that protect our youth.”

This year’s Hibiscus Festival was attended by more than 12,000 people.  If the crowds filling the street were any indication of the Festival’s success, it was another good year. “I got so many suggestions for next year during the festival…. the planning for next year has already begun,” said Janie Graves Hoover, event chairperson for the past two years. “My job this year isn’t finished until I thank everyone who came together to make the 2013 Hibiscus Festival such a great event."