News and Events

City of Arcadia Promotes "Tobacco Free Zones" Policy!
December 4, 2017

Our local government recently made a big stride in supporting the health and well-being of our citizens by establishing a tobacco free zones policy.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and DHS SWAT Youth were extremely proud to announce that on June 6, 2017, all playground areas, picnic areas and youth athletic fields at all City parks and recreation facilities were hereby designated as tobacco-free and vape-free zones.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County worked with DeSoto Sign to provide the City of Arcadia with appropriate signage at all city parks and recreational facilities, designating such areas as tobacco-free zones. Tobacco Free Zone Signage is now prominent at all City of Arcadia Parks and Recreational Facilities, at no cost to the City.

Jodie DeLoach, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist in DeSoto County, said that she was "beyond excited to watch the children and youth of Arcadia play in a safe, clean environment."

   

For more information about adopting a tobacco free policy, visit www.TFP-DeSoto.org or contact JDeLoach@QuitDoc.com.

____________________________________________________________________

Local Employers Benefit from Adoption of Tobacco Free Workplace Policies
November 16, 2017

Arcadia, Florida – Several local workplaces are making big strides in supporting the health and well-being of their employees by adopting tobacco free workplaces.

In 2007, DeSoto Memorial Hospital adopted a tobacco free workplace policy, supporting their employees’ efforts to quit smoking and enhancing their current wellness policies. While they have been supporting no tobacco for 10 years, they regularly revisit their policy to ensure it is providing an environment that is healthy for all persons on its premises.

The DMH tobacco free policy is now quite comprehensive and covers all buildings and properties, including parking lots owned by DeSoto Memorial Hospital and all properties under lease agreement with the hospital. Signs are posted at each facility entrance and other prominent, visible areas, reminding individuals that the premises is tobacco free.

Current employees are able to take free cessation classes through the Quit Your Way program offered by Tobacco Free Florida and enjoy the benefits of a tobacco free lifestyle.


DeSoto Memorial Hospital CEO, Vincent Sica (R) and Director of Marketing, Danyiell Blosser (L) proudly support their tobacco free grounds policy.

The free Quit Your Way program allows employees to call, go online, or even attend face-to-face cessation classes, many of which have been hosted at their places of employment in order to support tobacco cessation efforts. Read More

___________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Share Information at Trick or Treat Event
October 20, 2017

Members of the DeSoto County SWAT Youth Chapter enjoyed a little family fun as they passed out information and candy to children and families at the annual community wide Trick or Treat Event.

Businesses and community partners are invited every year to attend the event which is held at the Turner Agri-Civic Center on October 31st. This is a fun way to get information out to families as well as support safe, family fun.


SWAT Youth set up and ready to pass out information to the 1,000+ expected attendees at the annual Turner Center Community Trick or Treat.

In addition to the SWAT booth, DeSoto SWAT partnered with the Drug Free DeSoto Coalition and the BOCC to host the event. Several SWAT members volunteered their time recruiting partners throughout the community to set up a booth, encouraged friends and family to attend, and helped with setting up the event. SWAT youth also volunteered the night of by passing out information and candy for various businesses that wanted to participate and support the event, but did not have staff available to attend.

For more information on the SWAT Chapter in DeSoto County, contact Jodie DeLoach at JDeLoach@QuitDoc.com.

__________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco Members Attend Local Legislative Delegation Meeting
October 20, 2017

Senator Denise Grimsley and Representative Ben Albritton met with residents of DeSoto County on October 20, 2017. The legislative delegation hearing was held at the DeSoto County Courthouse and served as a time for residents to share their top concerns with decision makers.


Community Health Advocate, Jodie DeLoach, and SWAT President, Lauren Wiley pose for a quick picture with Senator Grimsley before the delegation.

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) of DeSoto County and DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter is working hard to reduce usage and exposure to tobacco products through many avenues and initiatives. The two main issues that were brought before the delegation were policies to counteract tobacco product marketing at the retail point of sale (POS) and the reduction of second hand smoke.

DeSoto County Community Health Advocate, Jodie DeLoach, addressed the delegation first to share some of our local efforts. She spoke on some of our recent wins, including but not limited to, a Tobacco Free Zones Resolution in City owned and operated parks and recreational facilities, a County Resolution that encourages retailers to restrict the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products, and recent Point of Sale store assessments. Read More

____________________________________________________________________  

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco Members Attend Statewide Meeting
August 20, 2017

Dillion Mendoza and Gabriel Abilez, both members of the DeSoto SWAT Chapter, had the opportunity to attend the Statewide SWAT retreat this summer.

The retreat took place at the Lake Yale Conference Center. Over the course of the event, the youth participated in collaborative learning activities in which they discovered many shocking facts about tobacco. The youth were excited to make new friends and hear what other clubs do within their  communities.


2017 Lake Yale SWAT Youth Retreat

“The retreat really opened their eyes to the dangers of tobacco and how far we've come in tobacco prevention since the early 1990's. Dillion and Gabriel were very thankful for the opportunity to attend the retreat and hope to attend on behalf of the DeSoto SWAT Chapter next year.” Melissa Mendoza – DeSoto Community SWAT Advisor.

_____________________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco Members Attend Back-to-School Health Fair
July 29, 2017

On Saturday July 29, 2017, Students Working Against Tobacco and The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County participated in the annual Back-to-School Health Fair held by the DeSoto County School Board and DeSoto County Health Department. 

This event serves as a means for local agencies to provide families within our community with free school supplies. It also serves as a great way to promote services provided to families within DeSoto County. There were over 35 vendors in attendance and a grand total of more than 1000 students who walked away loaded with back to school supplies.

 
Community Health Advocate - Jodie DeLoach, SWAT Advisor - Melissa Mendoza, and SWAT Youth - Myha Mendoza and Aaliyah Rios pause for a quick selfie before distributing school supplies.
 

The Back-to-School Health Fair was held in the cafeteria at DeSoto Middle School. Parents and children were lined up outside the gym an hour before the event started waiting for the doors to open. This is an event that surely gets better and better each year.


SWAT Member Myha Mendoza, works diligently to get the supplies to attendees.

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) handed out Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) palm cards with SWAT frisbees and Tobacco Free Partnership Chapstick. There were also pamphlets available for families who wanted more information about the dangers of second hand smoke. In addition to giveaways, both TFP and SWAT had sign-up sheets available for individuals wanting more information about what we do as an organization. Read More

______________________________________________________________________

Citizens and Youth benefit from Establishment of Tobacco Free Zones
July 1, 2017

ARCADIA, Fla. – Our local government is making big strides in supporting the health and well-being of our citizens by establishing tobacco free zones.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and DHS SWAT Youth are extremely proud to announce that as of June 6, 2017, all playground areas, picnic areas and youth athletic fields at all City parks and recreation facilities are hereby designated as tobacco-free and vape-free zones.


Pictured left to right: SWAT Advisor, Melissa Mendoza, SWAT Youth - Lauren Wiley, Myha Mendoza, Kylee Adams, Aaliyah Rios, and Tobacco Prevention Specialist - Jodie DeLoach

There have been major concerns expressed from community members, and up until the point of adoption, there was no tobacco policy of any kind in place. SWAT Youth have presented to the City Council on numerous occasions and we are truly grateful to the councilmembers for seeing the importance of protecting our youth.

One of the primary reasons city officials chose to adopt a tobacco free zones policy is the astronomical amount of deaths each year related to smoking. Approximately 480,000 people die early each year from a smoking related illness. Nearly 10% of those deaths are due to secondhand smoke, making it the 3rd leading cause of preventable deaths. Read More

___________________________________________________________________

Tobacco-Free Partnership of DeSoto County Recognizes Members through Awards Meeting
May 16, 2017

It has been a very successful 2016-2017 year in tobacco prevention work here in DeSoto County. We have been extremely busy working to educate and prevent tobacco use and social norms within our community. We were able to celebrate many accomplishments this year, thanks to several hard working, dedicated members.


Pictured L to R: Jodie DeLoach, Cesar Barajas (SWAT Youth of the Year), Dr. Kirk Voelker

Cesar Barajas was recognized as our 16-17 SWAT Youth of the Year. His leadership and willingness to help has been invaluable. Cesar volunteered to speak on behalf of DHS SWAT Youth at a City Council Meeting, he helped plan and complete a park clean up in honor of Earth Day, as well as, volunteer his time to educate community members at various community events, including but not limited to The Arcadia March Rodeo, Turner Center Trunk or Treat, Tobacco Free Florida Week festivities, and many more. Cesar has been a major asset to our SWAT Youth Program and will definitely be missed! 


Pictured L to R: Jodie DeLoach, Kandice Browning (SWAT Advisor of the Year), Dr. Kirk Voelker

Our 16-17 Advisor of the Year was awarded to Kandice Browning. This was her first year volunteering as our DeSoto High School SWAT Youth Advisor. Being new did not hold her back in any aspect, she dove right in to recruiting and educating our youth. Kandice kept her club involved by holding regular meetings, constantly recruiting new youth, and being active within our community. The youth of DeSoto County are blessed to have adults, such as Kandice, that genuinely care about their future and wellbeing. We look forward to all that she will bring to our program, and the health of DeSoto County, in the years to come. Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and DHS SWAT Youth Educate Parents and Children at Jim Space Park for Tobacco Free Florida Week
May 11, 2017

In honor of Tobacco Free Florida Week in DeSoto County, DHS SWAT Youth and TFP members set up an informational booth at Jim Space Park Complex on May 11th. The TFP and SWAT Youth decided the park was a wonderful place to raise awareness due to so many community members complaining about the amount of tobacco use at our city parks and recreational facilities.


DHS SWAT Youth and TFP members enjoy educating park visitors
on the dangers and cost of smoking.

Jim Space contains a large playground, adult softball fields, and little league softball fields. A booth was set up right in the entry of the park, so all visitors had to walk by the booth to enter. Children really enjoyed coming up to the booth to see all the hands-on materials available and learning about the dangers and cost of smoking. During the event, TFP members and SWAT Youth walked around the park educating visitors. Overall, the event was a great success. We had countless parents stop by the booth to share stories and thank us for our hard work. There was not one parent who objected the idea of tobacco free parks within our community. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto High School Students Working Against Tobacco Celebrate Earth Day in DeSoto County with a Park Clean-Up
April 19, 2017

On Wednesday April 19, 2017, in efforts to raise awareness for Earth Day, and to collect evidence to support local policy implementation in City Parks and Recreational Facilities, the DeSoto High School SWAT youth completed a park clean up at McSwain Park in downtown Arcadia.

The youth were given gloves and Ziploc bags and were instructed to pick up litter of all kinds, however, there was very little “trash” on the property. The youth were however shocked at how much tobacco waste was found.


DHS SWAT Youth, along with advisor, Kandice Browning proudly
display tobacco litter that is no longer laying in McSwain Park.

The DHS SWAT club and advisor met the TPS at the park at 3:45, by 4:30, the nine youth in attendance, plus two adults, had collected over 2 gallons of tobacco litter alone. Most of the litter was cigarette butts, however, there was also cigarette packs, lighters, and drug paraphernalia collected as well. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County Shares Information on the Dangers of Tobacco at the Arcadia Rodeo
March 12, 2017

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County Sponsored a booth at the 2017 Arcadia Rodeo March 9 – 12th. Celebrating its 89th year, the 2017 March Rodeo is the largest and longest running rodeos in the southeast with events such as bull riding, bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, and team roping. It brings nearly 20,000 spectators from all over the state of Florida and the finest Pro Rodeo athletes from across the U.S. The rodeo is held in an outdoor arena where many other events are held, however, it is the last rodeo to be held in this arena, as a new one is under construction.


Partnership Members (From L to R): Jodie DeLoach, Daniel Hernandez, Faith and Abby Carter, Destiny Medina, Myha and Melissa Mendoza

A 10 X 10 booth was included in the sponsorship and was placed near the front entrance where all attendees would enter. This gave members the opportunity to welcome and greet rodeo fans and participants as they entered the arena utilizing hands on activities and face-to-face discussions.

Representatives from the TFP and SWAT Youth Ambassadors were both present all four days where they had the opportunity to network, interact, and educate with attendees one-on-one within the arena. TFP DeSoto and SWAT youth were stationed at the booth, as well as in various display areas throughout the event site during the rodeo where they conducted outreach and collected tobacco free rodeo rally cards.

Attendees in the stands were directed to the TFP booth where they could sign up to become a member, review local data, and/or receive more information on our partnership and mission.

  DHS SWAT Youth Cesar Barajas and Saul Andrade enjoy spreading the word about tobacco prevention.

Read More

____________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and the QuitDoc Foundation are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 10, 2017

DeSoto County, Fla. – The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and the QuitDoc Foundation 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. 6.2% percent of youth ages 11-17 in DeSoto County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2016, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.

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


Pictured above, L to R: - Melissa Mendoza (Community SWAT Advisor), Jodie DeLoach (Tobacco Prevention Specialist), and Jessica Keene (Partnership Member)

Local Tobacco Free Partnership Members spoke with attendees and provided them with tobacco statistics within Desoto County. Several talking points were mentioned, including but not limited to the fact that “according to the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 6.2% of youth in DeSoto County, between the ages of 11 and 17, currently use smokeless tobacco”. This is a 4% increase compared to the state average, which sits at 2.2%. While this is quite a bit above the state average, we have seen progress in our local statistics over the past few years. Since 2012, our county average of youth who use tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless) has decreased 4.8%. One of our main concerns in DeSoto County is the 41.8% of youth who reported being exposed to second hand smoke. 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:

_____________________________________________________________________

New Federal Housing and Urban Development Smoke-Free Policy Reflects Steps Taken Earlier by Aracadia Housing Authority
December 6, 2016

On June 22, 2009 the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed by President Obama.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), concerned for the well-being of the residents, encouraged housing authorities to adopt non-smoking policies. The Arcadia Housing Authority (AHA) partnered with Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County in 2013 and started this endeavor.

Pushing into 2014, resident meetings were held, drafts were created, and final results were submitted to HUD, which approved the Policy. The new Smoke Free Policy was effective July 1, 2015.

Our local policy was created to promote better health for our residents and to reduce the fire risk associated with smoking.  Tobacco use is prohibited 10 feet from common areas, public housing living units, and the AHA administration buildings. Neighboring agencies such as Avon Park, Sarasota, and Fort Myers were well ahead of the game with Smoke Free Policies enforced in earlier dates.

On December 6, 2016, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development took a major step forward and published its final rule Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing. This CFR applies a few of the familiar rules from the 2009 Act with a new extension of all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from all public housing units and administrative office buildings. Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Against Tobacco Members Attend Week of the Family Celebration
November 12, 2016

DeSoto County TFP and Students Working Against Tobacc (SWAT) youth attended The Week of the Family Celebration on Saturday November 12, 2016. The event was held at Brewer Sports Complex from 10:00 AM – 1:00 Pm. This is a local event dedicated to strengthening family relationships through education, wholesome activities, fitness, and community service.


SWAT youth, Myha Mendoza, schooled the boys on the health issues related to secondhand smoke.

There was fun, interactive activities available for all ages, including but not limited to: live entertainment, contest, giveaways, services, and much more. The Week of the Family truly is a wonderful event that provides community members with the opportunity to learn more about various nonprofits and community service efforts available to them locally. Read More

___________________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Florida and Tobacco free Partnership of DeSoto County Encourage Tobacco Users to Quit on the Great American Smokeout on November 17.
November 10, 2016

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

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

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

____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Attend Regional Training in Wauchula, Florida
November 5, 2016

It was a true pleasure attending the Regional SWAT Meeting on November 5, 2016 with two of the most dedicated SWAT Youth DeSoto County has to offer. The regional meeting was held at the Hardee County Health Department in Wauchula, Florida. Myha Mendoza and Lauren Wiley, gladly attended on behalf of the DeSoto County SWAT Chapter. Melissa Mendoza, SWAT Advisor of San Bosco Community SWAT Club, accompanied the girls to the meeting.


(picture L to R) Myha Mendoza, Melissa Mendoza, and Lauren Wiley
enjoy a quick selfie during their lunch break.

Myha Medoza is a member of our community based SWAT Club at San Juan Bosco. She has been an active member for nearly 2 years. She is dedicated to, and enjoys, exposing the dangers associated with tobacco use. In addition to SWAT, Myha is active in the art club at Memorial Elementary, and is also a member of DFy (Drug Free Youth).  “Myha is an incredibly dedicated young girl, always willing to lend a helping hand. We are very proud to have her serve as one of our SWAT youth,” said Jodie DeLoach.

Lauren Wiley, is one of our newest, yet most dedicated SWAT members. When asked if she would attend the regional SWAT meeting which was originally scheduled the same weekend as homecoming, she accepted without a moment of hesitation. Lauren is currently in her junior year at DeSoto High School. She is very enthusiastic when it comes to tobacco prevention and has been more than willing to help in any way she can. She is by far one of the most active and dependable SWAT students in the entire SWAT Chapter of DeSoto County. “We are truly blessed to have such a smart, kind, and devoted young girl serve on our SWAT Chapter here in DeSoto County. It is an absolute joy that we get to work with Lauren one more year before graduation.” said Jodie DeLoach. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County partners with the DeSoto County School Board and Drug Free DeSoto Coalition to Recognize Red Ribbon Week
November 2, 2016

Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in the United States. In fact, it is the Nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program, reaching millions of Americans during the last week of October every year.

By wearing red ribbons and participating in various community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free lifestyle and pay tribute to DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Special Agent Camarena was an 11-year DEA veteran assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico, office, where he was on the trail of the country’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers. In 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. However, on February 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County was happy to partner with the DeSoto County School Board and Drug Free DeSoto Coalition to bring awareness to this campaign.  All schools throughout the district were encouraged to celebrate by dressing up each day, as well as showing their school spirit in whatever suited their school best. During Red Ribbon Week, members from all three organizations sent representatives around to visit the school sites and “judge” their Red Ribbon spirit. Read More

______________________________________________________________________

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco Youth Educate Local Decision Makers on Point-of-Sale Tobacco Advertising
November 1, 2016

ARCADIA, FL — DeSoto High School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth, along with Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Jodie DeLoach, attended the Arcadia City Council Meeting on November 1, 2016. Youth attendees had a wonderful time representing their school as well as the SWAT program, and took advantage of the opportunity to educate local decision makers and community members on the dangers of tobacco use, as well as encourage policy makers to implement change.

To kick things off, Jodie DeLoach presented the Council with a brief history overview of the Tobacco Free Florida program. She explained that the TFF program was launched in 2007 after Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment, Article X, Section 27. This amendment called for establishing a comprehensive tobacco education and use prevention program using a percentage of the state’s tobacco settlement fund. She also clarified that TFF is administered through the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida (BTFF), and funded by money derived from the state’s tobacco settlement agreement with the major tobacco companies in 1997, not by local tax dollars.


Jodie DeLoach, Tobacco Prevention Specialist, gives the City Council of Arcadia a brief history overview of the Tobacco Free Florida Program, before introducing SWAT Youth.

After giving a brief overview, Jodie introduced the SWAT Youth in attendance, who then shared a few updates and activities they have been working on thus far this year.
The DeSoto County SWAT Chapter is working hard to complete Point of Sale (POS) Store Audits on all licensed tobacco retailers within DeSoto County. We currently have 33 tobacco retailers to assess locally, and thanks to the collaboration between SWAT Youth and the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County, nearly half of the audits have been completed. SWAT Youth and TFP members both really enjoyed being a part of this activity, as it was truly an eye-opening experience for all involved. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Partnership Members Participate in Community-Wide Trick-or-Treat Event
October 31, 2016

Members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County enjoyed a little family fun as they passed out information and candy to children and families at the annual community wide Trick or Treat.

Businesses and nonprofits are invited every year to attend the event which is held at the Turner Agri-Civic Center on October 31st. This is a fun way to get information out to families as well as support safe, family fun.


The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County set up and ready to pass out information to the 1,000+ expected attendees at the annual Turner Center Community Trick or Treat.

In addition to the TFP booth, DeSoto SWAT partnered with the Drug Free DeSoto Coalition and the BOCC to host the event. Several SWAT members volunteered their time recruiting partners throughout the community to host a booth, encouraged friends and family to attend, and helped with setting up the event. SWAT youth also volunteered the night of by passing out information and candy for various businesses that wanted to participate and support the event, but did not have staff available to attend. ____________________________________________________________________

Point of Sale Assessments Come to DeSoto County
August 23, 2016

After attending a very informative, two-day training on Point-of-Sale hosted by Counter Tools and the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida, Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Jodie DeLoach presented partnership members with a “Why POS matters” presentation. 

Partners were informed on Big Tobacco’s deceptive marketing and advertising techniques to better appeal to youth, non-smokers and even smokers who are trying to quit. Advertisements are plastered on gas pumps, parking lots, and inside stores everywhere. In fact, the tobacco industry spends one million dollars per hour and $8.7 billion dollars a year on tobacco advertising. Tobacco retailers cluster in already disadvantaged neighborhoods, they prompt kids to start smoking, make it harder for people to quit, and distract people from a healthier way of living.

The first Tobacco Free Partnership meeting of the new 2016-2017 fiscal year was held at DeSoto Memorial Hospital on August 23, 2016. While updates and floor items were discussed, the bulk of this meeting served as an open discussion on how point of sale matters to all members of our community and how we can unite and take a stand against these marketers. “Getting our community involved in these audits is crucial. These marketing tactics performed by Big Tobacco are targeted to our youth. If we can put a stop to these advertisements, we have a higher chance of creating a future tobacco free generation,” said Jodie DeLoach. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT Meet and Greet Community Members at Politics in the Park
August 18, 2016

On August 18, 2016 the DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce and The Arcadian hosted a community wide political event at McSwain Park. This event served as a time for community members to fellowship and meet individuals running for elected offices. In addition to any candidate running for office, nonprofit organizations were also invited to set up a booth and share their mission with the community.


TFP Member Asya Shine, SWAT Advisor Melissa Mendoza, and SWAT Youth Alexis Parsley and Dillon Mendoza passed out information and promotional items to community members who visited our booth. 

This turned out to be a wonderful event for all involved, especially for our partnership and SWAT youth. It was great for our members to have the opportunity to mingle with candidates in a low key, non-threatening manner. SWAT Youth were able to not only share their mission with the community, but also recruit several new members. Numerous new faces stopped by our booth inquiring about what we had to offer. “It warms my heart to see you guys here,” mentioned one community member. “I am excited to see the changes you will bring to DeSoto County, especially where our youth is concerned,” said another. Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Recruitment Begins in DeSoto County for the 2016-2017 School Year 
August 1, 2016

School is back in session and the DeSoto County SWAT Club recruitment is in full swing! DeSoto County currently has 3 SWAT Clubs, with chapters at DeSoto Middle School, DeSoto High School, and a community based club at Casa San Juan Bosco in Arcadia. In addition to being present at numerous community wide events and open house(s), the start of the school year means each of the clubs, as well as members of the Tobacco Free Partnership, are exhibiting strong efforts in hopes to recruitment more active SWAT members to help spread the word about tobacco prevention.

One of the most important messages the Clubs work hard to spread to their peer groups is that using tobacco products is NOT a social norm. In fact, according to the most recent Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), 16.9% of school youth in DeSoto County reported using some form of tobacco within the last 30 days. This sits at an astounding 7% above the state average of 9.2%.

The SWAT Clubs work on many projects throughout the year, from speaking at local legislative meetings about tobacco issues to running campus-wide activities for observances like Kick Butts Day and the Great American Smoke Out. Read More

___________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County Attends Back to School Fair
July 23, 2016

On Saturday July 23, 2016, Students Working Against Tobacco and The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County participated in the annual Back-to-School Health Fair held by the DeSoto County School Board and DeSoto County Health Department.  

This event serves as a means for local agencies to provide families within our community with free school supplies. It also serves as a great way to promote services provided to families within DeSoto County. There were over 35 vendors in attendance and a grand total of more than 900 students who walked away loaded with back to school supplies.

The Back-to-School Health Fair was held in the gym at DeSoto High School. Parents and children were lined up outside the gym an hour before the event started waiting for the doors to open. This is an event that surely gets better and better each year.


Students Working Against Tobacco Member, Myha Mendoza and Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Jodie DeLoach pause for the camera just before distributing school supplies.

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) handed out Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) palm cards with an attached highlighter pen promoting the program. Families were also given information about the dangers of second hand smoke and 3 Ways to Quit. In addition to giveaways, both TFP and SWAT had sign-up sheets available for individuals wanting more information about what we do as an organization. Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Partnership Presents Tobacco Prevention Program to Youth at Catholic Charities
June 8, 2016

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Cigarette Report for 2013, 2016 - Major tobacco companies now spend $9.5 billion per year - more than $25 million every day - to promote their products, and many of their marketing efforts directly to kids.

Approximately 90% of all smokers start before age 18, the average age for a new smoker being 13!

To help bring awareness to this topic, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County presented tobacco education, particularly in the area of point of sale retail, to Catholic Charities at Casà San Juan Bosco on the morning of June 8, 2016.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and look forward to working together in the near future to implement a tobacco free policy at their facility.

Melissa Mendoza (DeSoto County SWAT Coordinator), Jim Potter (Tobacco Free Partnership Member), and Jodie DeLoach (Community Health Advocate) visit youth at Catholic Charities of Casa San Juan Bosco.

____________________________________________________________________

QuitDoc Foundation Exposes the Risks of Secondhand Smoke
Eighth Annual Tobacco Free Florida Week Aims to Break the Myth that Secondhand Smoke is Harmless
May 14, 2016

Desoto County, FL. – QuitDoc Foundation and the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco related products during “Tobacco Free Florida Week.” This public awareness campaign was created to promote the education of the deadly addiction related to tobacco products. “Tobacco Free Florida Week” took place May 8th – 14th.

Bringing awareness to these deadly products is imperative. The high levels of nicotine contained in tobacco related products are highly addicting and can lead to a lifelong battle with disease, depression, and even death.

Up to now, it was thought that it took years for smokers to become addicted, but current research proves addiction can take place within days. Upon starting, smokers are immediately confronted with a quit battle.  Truth is, the average smoker attempts to quit smoking between 8 and 11 times before ultimately quitting for good.

According to the 2010 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, a combined total of 62.2% of individuals in DeSoto County, between the ages of 18 and 64, are current tobacco users. This is a 22.5% increase compared to the state average, which sits at 39.7%. Read More

____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Celebrate Another Great Year!
May 13, 2016

On Friday, May 13, 2016 a barbeque was held in honor of our Senior Students Working Against Tobacco and D.F.Y. groups.

We gathered at 6:00 PM in the Desoto County High School cafeteria. Parents were also invited to join in on the celebration.

During the event, students were reminded of the hours of dedication and the effort put forth during the past year with graduation right around the corner.

We also encouraged our students to remain Tobacco, Drug, and Alcohol free.

The barbeque was a success. Our Senior students and their parents were thanked with much gratitude for being involved. Our children are our future!

 

_____________________________________________________________________

Jodie DeLoach joins QuitDoc Foundation as the Tobacco Prevention Specialist for DeSoto County
March 2, 2016

ARCADIA, Fla. – QuitDoc Foundation recently named Jodie DeLoach as the Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Desoto County.  Jodie will also be responsible for facilitating the Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County, a coalition of community leaders working together on tobacco issues that affect the residents of Desoto County, particularly its most vulnerable residents: youth and senior citizens.

"I am beyond excited to represent Desoto County as QuitDoc’s newest team member," said Jodie. “Implementing the education, prevention, and treatment of tobacco in this quaint community is a true passion of mine.”

Jodie comes to QuitDoc from the Hardee County School Board where she has been employed at Zolfo Springs Elementary (ZSE) School for the past seven years. During her years at ZSE, she spent numerous hours volunteering with many non-profit groups and being an active member in the community. She was the 2014 ZSE Teacher of the Year, Grade Chair Lead, Fundraising Co-chair, a member of the Parent Involvement Committee, a participant on the summer planning board, the Junior Varsity Cheerleading Sponsor, and served on countless other clubs and organizations.

 

In addition to teaching, Jodie is also a Health and Wellness Coach. As a coach, she cultivates and manages new and existing relationships by living a healthy lifestyle and recruiting others to do the same. Through coaching, she serves as a mentor to nearly 100 women working towards health goals. Jodie has truly developed a love for healthy living, in all capacity, and has a deep passion for helping others live happier, healthier lives. Read More

__________________________________________________________________

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco Program Welcomes New SWAT Coordinator
February 18, 2016

Melissa Mendoza has joined our DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco team as the local SWAT Coordinator.  Melissa comes from the DeSoto County Health Department where she worked as a support tech involved with diabetes education and “closing the gap” project.

Melissa has hit the ground running working with both Desoto Middle School and DeSoto High School students, essentially doubling student participation at both schools.  In her first month, SWAT students have hosted a booth at the DeSoto Rodeo informing of the dangers of smokeless tobacco, and have partnered with Drug Free DeSoto on a basketball tournament and spring break camp.

“Melissa has a great energy which she brings to our SWAT program.  We are excited to see the projects that she has planned for the future,” notes Dr. Kirk Voelker, who manages the Community-Based Tobacco Prevention Program in DeSoto County. "We look forward to gaining greater student enthusiasm and participation in our SWAT activities with Melissa at the helm."

For more information on the DeSoto County SWAT Program, contact Melissa Mendoza at MMendoza@QuitDoc.com.

_________________________________________________________________

Smokeless Tobacco Use Remains High in DeSoto County
QuitDoc Foundation and Tobacco Free Florida are raising awareness during “Through with Chew Week”
February 9, 2016

Desoto County, 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.

Although youth cigarette smoking rates in Florida are at an all-time low, 12.7 percent of high school students in Desoto County reported current use of smokeless tobacco products in 2014, according to the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.  This was significantly higher than the state average of 5.4%.

To raise awareness about the dangers of smokeless tobacco use QuitDoc Foundation, and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County presented to the Desoto County Board of County Commissioners to ask them to adopt a Through With Chew Week Proclamation.  Partnership Member Courtney Moyett educated the Commissioners with local statistics about youth using smokeless tobacco within Desoto County.  She also stated that bringing awareness to smokeless tobacco is imperative because products like chew and dip can contain more nicotine than traditional cigarettes, and can lead to a lifetime of addiction. 

On Feb. 9th, 2016, at 9 a.m. the Desoto County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the proclamation.  Mrs. Moyett thanked the Commissioners and County Administrator for their ongoing support of the tobacco control program in Desoto County and assured them that the partnership would continue to advocate against tobacco use. Read More


Pictured from L-R:
Commissioner Elton Langford and Courtney Moyett Community Health Advocate for QuitDoc Foundation and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County

___________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Businesses Celebrate the Annual Great American Smokeout
November 19 , 2015

The Great American Smokeout is an annual observance sponsored by the American Cancer Society that encourages tobacco users to use the day to make a quit plan or plan in advance to use the day to quit. The Great American Smokeout raises awareness about the dangers of smoking and the many effective resources available to successfully quit.

On Thursday November 19, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto teamed up with the Arcadia Housing Authority and Transpower Construction Services, Inc., to promote and encourage the use of tobacco cessation resources available to employees through Tobacco Free Florida’s Three Ways to Quit.

Having a comprehensive quit plan increases a tobacco user’s success rate in quitting. Bookmarks were distributed inspiring employees to “Quit & Tell” by providing these six steps:

  1. Decide to Quit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Set a Quit Date
  4. Start Your Quit Journey
  5. Keep Trying
  6. Quit & Tell

Read More

Quit & Tell

__________________________________________________________________

Drug-Free DeSoto Coalition Wrapped Up Red Ribbon Week at the End of October
October 31, 2015

Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, drug, and violence prevention awareness campaign held around October 23 – 31 every year. It is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country starting in 1985 after DEA Agent Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was killed and tortured by a drug cartel in Mexico. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.

This year for Red Ribbon Week we held a door decorating contest for the elementary schools and the middle school and a bulletin board decorating contest for the high school.

Memorial Elementary School entries
Several entries from Memorial Elementary School.

We had participation from 6 teachers at Memorial Elementary School (MES), who encouraged all of their students to participate and 6 teachers from Desoto Middle School (DMS).

DeSoto Middle School entries
Several entries from DeSoto Middle School.

The Winners of the contest at the MES and DMS were rewarded with a pizza party and those who did not win were rewarded with a Halloween treat for their participation. 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

__________________________________________________________________

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

_______________________________________________________________

Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County Attends Arcadia Housing Authority Open House
June 19, 2015

The Tobacco Free Partnership had the opportunity to have an information booth at the Arcadia Housing Authority’s Open House event on Friday June 19, 2015.

This was the first open house event held by the Arcadia Housing Authority since Hurricane Charley swept through the community 10 years ago leaving destruction in it’s wake.

The event helped to reach out to tenants of the subsidized housing program and provide them with information about education and services provided by organizations that continually partner with the Arcadia Housing Authority on a professional level. Free lunch, complete with a cupcake, was also provided to everyone who attended the event.

The Tobacco Free Partnership shared information on the risks of secondhand smoke, and the benefits of smoke-free living options... Read More

Smoke-Free Units

___________________________________________________________________

Spotlight: Mauricio Mandujano, "A Life of Change"
May 21, 2015

It was June 15 of 2011, I was a 14-year old middle schooler who lived in Mexico along with his family. However, unexpectedly, all my academic, personal, and athletic plans would change in an instant. Due to my father's health issues, we decided to move to Dallas where he fell ill. There, I would undergo a process of assimilation and adaptation to a new and diverse culture, as well as, to a new educational system. At first, it was hard to adopt the U.S lifestyle; since the beginning, I was convinced that it was going to be different but I never imagined such an immense discrepancy. Yet, as the time passed by, I accustomed myself to society and became part of it.
Mauricio Mendujano

One of the most difficult parts of my adaptation, was becoming a fluent and self-sufficient individual capable of coexist in high school. In fact, when I arrived to the U.S., I spoke no English whatsoever. Because of this, it was fundamental to me to promptly and effectively acquire English as my second language. Thus, my intrinsic desire of learning a new language, as well as, to excel in my classes permitted me to achieve my primary goal over the course of my first year. Nevertheless, my eagerness of knowledge and triumph would only increase. Further, it would be in the years to come that I would find my passion for languages, more specifically French. 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 

________________________________________________________________

QuitDoc Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for DeSoto 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 DeSoto 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

__________________________________________________________________

Florida Youth Tobacco Survey Results Show a Sharp Decline in Youth Tobacco Use in DeSoto County
February 3, 2015

The county level data from the 2014 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) were published and there is a lot to celebrate among DeSoto County Tobacco Free Partnership members, SWAT members, and community partners who support the tobacco prevention program. 

Quit Doc first received the tobacco prevention grant in 2009. Since that time, there has been a marked decrease tobacco use among middle and high school students in DeSoto County. There has also been a significant drop in secondhand smoke exposure among those same students.

Here are the numbers for comparison which show the percent of students who have used each product within the last 30 days:

High School
2008
2014
Percent Change
Cigarettes
18.1%
12.3%
-32.0%
Cigars 
19.2%
13.7%
-28.6%
Smokeless
13.2%
12.7%
-3.8%
Any Form
32.9%
27.6%
-16.1%
Secondhand Smoke Exposure
59.5%
46.6%
-21.7%

Middle School
2008
2014
Percent Change
Cigarettes
6.9%
4.9%
-29.0%
Cigars 
8.4%
2.7%
-67.9%
Smokeless
11.3%
4.0%
-64.6%
Any Form
17.5%
9.2%
-47.4%
Secondhand Smoke Exposure
53.8%
39.1%
-27.3%

Read More

__________________________________________________________________

Quitting Tobacco is the Best New Year’s Resolution You Can Make!
By Whitney Browning, DeSoto County Tobacco Prevention Specialist
December 4, 2014

As the holiday season approaches, we often reflect on ways that we can improve ourselves as we prepare to turn the page on another year.  For tobacco users, this often provides the extra motivation necessary to make a successful quit attempt.

It is no secret that there are many health risks associated with smoking; cancer, heart disease, and lung disease just to to name a few. However, another health risk is constantly used as a reason to smoke: stress.

For a smoker, nicotine depletion enhances feelings of irritability and tension. When this happens, the body is creating signals of stress because it is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. When you smoke to relieve stress, you are not only creating more stress in your body, but also a habit that will associate smoking with stressful situations. This increases your addiction to nicotine both mentally and physically.

“Realizing that nicotine doesn’t relieve stress but actually causes stress can be a hard thing for smokers to get their heads around,” said Dr. Barry Hummel, Co-Founder of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, which manages the Tobacco Free Florida Program in DeSoto County. “Once smokers realize nicotine makes it harder to deal with their day-to-day stress… that they have always had the inner strength to handle stress on their own… they have a much easier time overcoming their addiction.” Read More

Trust the Quitter in You

__________________________________________________________________

Local Businesses Recognize the Annual Great American Smoke Out
November 20 , 2014

On Thursday November 20, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto teamed up with the Arcadia Housing Authority and Transpower Construction Services, Inc., to promote tobacco cessation resources to employees by recognizing the annual Great American Smoke Out.

Postcards were created with the special message to “Trust the Quitter in You,” and encouraged employees to utilize the three free and easy ways to quit offered by Tobacco Free Florida. These postcards were mailed out to the employees. Becky Sue Mercer, Director of the Arcadia Housing Authority, said that the postcards would also most likely be mailed out to tenants as well, to broaden the scope of the message to more than just the employees.

Great American Smoke Out

Whitney Browning, Tobacco Prevention Specialist for DeSoto, agreed. ”When the message is something as important as encouraging people to quit using tobacco, it is just wonderful when it can be extended to reach more than just the intended audience.”

The Great American Smoke Out is an observance that raises awareness about the dangers of smoking and the many effective resources available to successfully quit. It is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and is currently in its 39th year.

For more information on tobacco cessation resources in DeSoto County, contact Whitney Browning at wbrowning@quitdoc.com.

__________________________________________________________________

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Recruitment Begins in DeSoto County for the 2014-2015 School Year
August 9, 2014

The Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County and Students Working Against Tobacco participated in the annual Back-to-School Health Fair held by the DeSoto County Health Department on August 9, 2014.

This event is used by local agencies to provide low-income families with school supplies for youth, as well as information about services provided by local agencies. Subway even gave away free box lunches to attendees.

The Back-to-School Health Fair was held in the gym of DeSoto High School. Parents and their children were lined up outside the gym an hour before the event started waiting for the doors to open.

SWAT

The Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) handed out 525 pencils promoting the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) program and information about the dangers of second hand smoke to families that stopped by the table. SWAT also had a sign-up sheet at the table, and 43 youth signed up for more information about the SWAT clubs in the middle and high school... Read More

__________________________________________________________________

Arcadia Housing Authority goes Smoke Free as of July 1, 2014

We would like to congratulate the Arcadia Housing Authority for their concern for their tenants. 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.  In DeSoto County, the use of cigarettes is higher than the statewide average. This means that more DeSoto County residents will die or be disabled from smoking related disease than in other areas of the state.  Youth in DeSoto start smoking and dipping earlier.  “Once a kid’s brain sees nicotine on a routine basis they become an addict willing to give tobacco companies thousands of dollars a year to support their addiction,” states Kirk Voelker MD, a pulmonologist and DeSoto tobacco prevention specialist.  “On average, smokers die 14.5 years earlier than nonsmokers.”

Second hand smoke is also an issue  because it causes respiratory problems, heart attacks and cancers in non-smokers.  A person living with a smoker has triple the risk of a heart attack and 1.5 times the risk of cancer as those living in smoke free homes.  It is estimated that second hand smoke kills over 50,000 people each year in the United States.  “Smoking around your family members similar to putting a little poison in their food every day, it is not enough to kill them all at once but over time it may.” notes Dr. Voelker, “Since up to 60% of the air inside a duplex or apartment circulates from one unit to another, the smoker is not only poisoning their family but also poisoning their neighbors”... Read More

Walls Don't Protect

___________________________________________________________________

Partner Update: Links2Success Hosting the 2nd Annual Youth Career & Leadership Program
June 10, 2014

Links2Success is gearing up for the 2014 Youth Leadership and Career Conference for DeSoto Middle School students. The conference is for students currently in 7th and 8th grade with a minimum 2.5 GPA and will run from July 7th-12th. 

The 2014 Conference is designed to provide exposure to career, confidence, leadership, and interest-building activities to middle school students in DeSoto County. The primary aim of the camp is to introduce students to careers and education that can be obtained upon graduation from DeSoto County High School.

Links2Success Leadership Conference

The conference will help students develop a love for learning and set a goal to graduate and pursue post-secondary education opportunities. “I learned so much about careers and I now know that I want to go to college.  We had so much fun and I’m happy that I was able to be in the first class,” stated Richelle Stewart, a graduate of the inaugural 2013 class... Read More

___________________________________________________________________

Spotlight on SWAT: Meet Our Graduating Leaders of Students Working Against Tobacco Program in DeSoto County

Read more about two leaders of the Students Working Against Tobacco program from DeSoto County.

DeSoto students

___________________________________________________________________

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

___________________________________________________________________

Partner Update: Foundation Seeks to Restore Smith Brown Gym
Ashley Coone, March 23, 2014

Standing before the Arcadia City Council recently, the Smith Brown Community Foundation Board of Directors unveiled an ambitious plan to renovate the Smith Brown Gym. The Foundation laid out its plans to restore the gym and transform it into a community facility. The renovated gym would provide a safe building for organizations to provide services for everyone from youth to seniors.  

The renovation plans are the result of the Foundation’s yearlong community needs assessment and their past programming in the facility. “There’s such a rich history in this building. There are so many kids who started out playing and learning in this gym during school, after school, and summers. Many of these kids have become extremely successful adults. We look forward to restoring the gym and providing enrichment services to the youth of today and continuing a tradition of success,” Richard Bowers, affectionately known as “Coach”, chairman of the Smith Brown Community Foundation explained. 

Smith Brown Gym

The Foundation has a preliminary phased plan to do just that. The initial phase of the project is to make the building safe and usable. Long-term plans include updating fixtures, equipment, adding air conditioning, painting and more... Read More

_________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Teens Tell Big Tobacco:
I am Not a “Replacement”

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.”

This Kick Butts Day, DeSoto’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) are speaking up and taking action to let Big Tobacco know they will be not replacements. Kick Butts Day, on March 19, is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids national day of activism that empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

KBD Card

Kick Butts Day is during Spring Break for DeSoto schools. This is not stopping some SWAT members from celebrating the day out in the community and online. They have left Kick Butts Day information cards in areas with public information like The Last Chapter Coffee House and The Chamber of Commerce. They also represented the “I am Not a ‘Replacement’” campaign by wearing shirts with that message and taking “selfies.” The youth have the option to post their “selfies” on the DeSoto SWAT Facebook page with the tag #swatourvoice.

“Tobacco doesn’t make you look better,” said Andreina Martinez, a member of DeSoto High School SWAT. “It makes you look older than you really are. SWAT guides you on a regular basis to understand the harms of tobacco and reasons to stay away from it.” Read More

____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco Participate in the Annual Christmas Card Lane Event
December 1, 2013

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco Youth partnered with Drug-Free Youth of DeSoto youth to create a Christmas Card for “Christmas Card Lane”.

Christmas Card Lane

“Christmas Card Lane” is an event held by the DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce in which local businesses and other community organizations participate. The “Christmas Cards” are made of plywood with sizes ranging from 4’ x 8’ to 8’ x 8 and painted with Christmas greetings and placed in the park next to the Chamber building. 

Chamber board members then vote on the cards under several different categories. Unfortunately, the SWAT/DFY card did not win any prizes. However, SWAT youth are already geared up and brainstorming card ideas for next year!

When you are in Arcadia during the holidays, be sure to stroll through Christmas Card Lane to see the local talent's handiwork!

For more information on the SWAT program in DeSoto County, contact Whitney Page Browning at wpage@quitdoc.com.

____________________________________________________________________

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County Celebrates the Great American Smoke Out
November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013 was the 37th Annual Great American Smoke Out, the annual day set aside by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit, if only for one day. This year for the Great American Smoke Out, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County partnered with the City of Arcadia and DeSoto Memorial Hospital.

The City of Arcadia mailed out inserts with cessation information, and the local Tobacco Prevention Specialists were available to employees to help answer questions about cessation.

DeSoto Memorial Hospital combined the Great American Smoke Out with a hospital wide Halloween event to raise money for the hospital. They provided cessation information to employees in the cafeteria next to the money buckets. They kidnapped a skeleton from one of the departments and held it for ransom. Each department had a different bucket to drop money in. It was a creative way to raise money by creating competition between departments... Read More

DeSoto GASO
DeSoto County Tobacco Prevention Specialists, Dr. Kirk Voelker (L) and
Whitney Page Browning (R) share cessation information at DeSoto Memorial Hospital

____________________________________________________________________

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

_____________________________________________________________________

Arcadia City Council Passes Resolution Encouraging Restrictions on the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

On May 21, 2013 the Arcadia City Council passed a resolution opposing the sale of flavored tobacco within the city limits of Arcadia. Passage of the resolution came after an amazing presentation by Dr. Kirk Voelker, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County, and youth from DeSoto County’s Students Working Against Tobacco. The SWAT youth were the driving force at the City Council meeting. High school students Joedy Rios and Ernesto Montalvo shared their message, “Tobacco targets me". With the help from two mini-SWAT members, elementary school students Julian Cendejas and Dylan Mendoza, this message resonated with the Council members.  

Arcadia City Council

The resolution is symbolic gesture to help educate and call attention to the issue, hopefully prompting stronger action at the state and national level... 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."

Fourteen students from Alachua, Clay, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Marion Counties were asked to contribute facts and information on the issue of flavored tobacco products that are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The students then recorded the information at the make-shift studio... Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

ZOMBIES INVADE ARCADIA !!
February 24, 2013

On Sunday February 24th zombies invaded Arcadia. 

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) teamed up with Sarasota based horror film producer and director Sean Haitz to shoot an anti-tobacco zombie commercial in downtown Arcadia.  Mr. Haitz, of Faced Productions, has created Mango Slasher 3 and is currently working on Big Top Evil, a circus based horror film shot in Sarasota (preview available on You Tube).

Zombies invade

On February 5th, the Arcadia City Council gave permission for Quit Doc Education and Research Foundation to shoot this anti-tobacco commercial in Arcadia.  With the help of the sheriff’s office the streets of downtown Arcadia were blocked for this production, as local teens stormed the streets starring in the video... Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

Be a Good Neighbor… Quit Smoking!
By Kirk G Voelker M.D.

If you are looking for a good reason to quit smoking, here are a few.

  1. You will live longer - The average non-smoker lives 14 years longer than smokers.  You will buy yourself quality years of life no matter what age you quit.
  2. You will save money - You probably spend around $1500/year for every pack of cigarettes that you smoke each day.  Just think what you could do with that money!
  3. You will become more attractive - Seriously, smoking effects your breath, skin, clothes and teeth.  Once you become a non-smoker you will realize that people can smell residual smoke on your body from several feet away.
  4. You will be a better neighbor - Your smoke does not just stay in your unit.  Up to 65% of the air is recirculated between units.  Second hand smoke from your unit can set off a breathing or allergy attack in your neighbor. 

DeSoto Memorial Hospital has a free stop smoking program.  In addition, they provide free nicotine replacement therapy ($100 value).  For information on how to quit smoking or how to create a better living environment for your neighbors, call Whitney Page, your DeSoto County Tobacco prevention specialist at 863 318-7848, or by email at wpage@quitdoc.com

_____________________________________________________________________

DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco Educate the Community on the Dangers of Flavored Tobacco

It is the end of the year and a rather busy 2nd quarter for DeSoto County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) club advisors and youth members. With 2013 lying just on the horizon, the DeSoto County SWAT clubs have begun to setting the stage for candy-flavored resolutions of in DeSoto County.
    
In October, DeSoto High School SWAT and DeSoto Middle School SWAT handed out 250 Halloween postcards with candy to bring awareness to candy-flavored tobacco products. These cards educated DeSoto County citizens on the fact that candy-flavored tobacco products are made to entice to youth to start using tobacco products...
Read More

_____________________________________________________________________

Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation Awarded Tobacco Prevention Grant for DeSoto 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 DeSoto 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. Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation has been the fiscal agent for the DeSoto County programs since 2009... Read More