News and Events

Dixie District Schools Strengthens Smoking and Tobacco Free Policy
November 14, 2023

On November 14, the Dixie County School Board added provisions to strengthen the district's Smoking and Tobacco Free Environment policy.

As recently as April, 2023 the Dixie County School Board adopted SB 8.32, SMOKING AND TOBACCO FREE ENVIRONMENT” policy.  The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County and Dixie County SWAT chapter has been working with the school district for years to strengthen the K12 Tobacco Free Schools Policy.  Based on the Tobacco Free Florida’s Comprehensive Policy for Tobacco Free Schools, Dixie County SB 8.32 covered 12 of the 15 provisions that satisfy Tobacco Free Florida’s standards for a comprehensive school-based tobacco free policy. 

The provisions that were included in SB 8.32:

The Dixie County School Board approved this policy as a commitment to provide students, staff and visitors with a smoking and tobacco-free environment that will support tobacco prevention and protect the health of students.  Three of Tobacco Free Florida’s Comprehensive Policy for Tobacco Free Schools provisions that were not addressed in SB 8.32 are (Read More)

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Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Participate in Not a Lab Rat Day!
Ociotober 18, 2023

The sixth annual “Not A Lab Rat Day” was October 18,2023.  Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) put focus on the tobacco industry’s increasing usage of social media to target youth and promote products that are addictive and pose serious health risks.

According to the Tobacco Free Florida’s SWAT Not A Lab Rat Day Press Release:

 “Social media has become a staple of everyday life, especially for younger generations. The tobacco industry is aware of this and utilizes social media to generate buzzworthy content that can influence youth to start using their products. According to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 73.5% of students who use social media reported viewing e-cigarette content.

To generate content, tobacco companies use influencers and sponsored content. Vape advertisements shared by influencers rarely included warning labels about the addictive potential of nicotine, feature imagery that appeals to youth, and defy federal advertising regulations such as failing to disclose brand relationships, a requirement by the FTC.  Influencers are often invited by companies to serve as brand ambassadors to promote their tobacco products. They rarely use the Instagram feature that restricts youth access, despite the post claiming the content is for 18+ or 21+. Even if influencers follow this guideline, teenagers can easily get around age restrictions by creating a profile with a fake age. Tobacco companies also sponsor and hold events designed to connect with younger audiences, allowing them to promote the event on social media and promote their products by extension. These events often spare no expense in order to attract new customers.

In 2022, 15.2% of high school students in Florida reported actively using e-cigarettes, while 6.6% of middle school students did the same.  While usage rates in Florida are continuing to trend in the right direction, there is still work to be done to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic. When this year’s Not a Lab Rat Day kicks off, SWAT members will be energized and ready to put the tobacco industry on blast for their use of social media to target youth. (Read More)

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Dixie County Commission Moves Forward with Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance
September 7, 2023

On Thursday, September 7, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. the Dixie County Attorney, Chana Watson presented a Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance to the Dixie County Commissions during the County Commissions Regular Meeting. The County Attorney reviewed the ordinance that she submitted. A motion was made by a County Commissioner to advertise in the local paper two weeks prior to a first hearing on the ordinance. The motion was approved by the County Commissioner.

On March 2, 2023, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County Co-Chair had presented to the county commissioners about the need for the Dixie County Commission to adopt a Tobacco and Vape Free Parks and Beaches Policy in Dixie County.  After listening to the information provided by the Tobacco Free Partnership, County Commissioner Mark Hatch made a motion for the county attorney to review the current tobacco free parks resolution 2017-55 and to revise accordingly for an Ordinance that will cover tobacco free parks and beaches to be re-submitted.

In June 2022, Governor DeSantis signed HB105, the legislation that grants city and county governments the ability to ban smoking at public parks and beaches. This law could potentially impact Florida’s 67 county park systems and more than 400 city park systems.  In the past years, all a county or city could do was pass a Resolution and post signage. Now that the Florida Clean Air Act has been passed, it allows Dixie County and the Town of Cross City to take a major beneficial step to protect their communities by passing an ordinance to make beaches and parks tobacco, smoke and vape free. Read More

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Meet Our Newest Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Advisor, Ms. Jordan Butler!
August 24, 2023

In July, Mr. Richard Whittington, the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT Advisor for the past 10 years, announced his retirement from Ruth Rains Middle School. Mr. Whittington has chaperoned many of the Regional SWAT Trainings, he has maintained an active SWAT club, participated in Park Clean-Ups, attended the Cross City Fly-In and Business Expo for five years where he assisted with the SWAT booth and so much more.  The entire Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County wants to thank Mr. Whittington for his commitment to the health of the youth in Dixie County and promoting youth empowerment. 

Mr. Whittington's departure left some mighty big shoes to fill!

 

Fortunately, Ms. Jordan Butler has stepped up to become the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT Advisor. While a student at Dixie County High School, Jordan was a SWAT member for all four years, and she served as an officer for each year and President for her senior year.  Her second year of teaching, Jordan is a 5th grade ELA teacher at Ruth Rains Middle School. 

Ms. Butler shared that she wanted to be the SWAT Advisor to advocate for youth, promoting the importance of protecting and informing youth and the community of the dangers of using tobacco products.  During the June Statewide SWAT Training, Jordan chaperoned two SWAT youth for four days and three nights, where she attended the advisors training sessions.  Jordan is already planning a “Not A Lab Rat” event in October with the SWAT youth and will continue to grow active participation of the students at Ruth Rains Middle School.

   

We look forward to having Ms Butler inspire the next generation of Dixie County Youth to stay tobacco and vape free!

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Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Attend Statewide Training
June 12, 2023

During the weekend of June 8th – 11, 2023, two Dixie County SWAT youth, Harley NesSmith and Ashlyn Berry, attended the 2023 Statewide SWAT Meeting in Lakeland, Florida.  Jordan Butler, a former Dixie County SWAT member and a teacher at Ruth Rains Middle School is a new SWAT advisor for Dixie County, chaperoned for the training.

The theme was SWERVE and included four days and three nights of trainings, sessions and statewide SWAT connections. 

 

Ms. Jordan shared that many of the Sessions on the agenda for the Statewide SWAT youth were very interesting and she even learned a lot about the program. She shared that the key note speaker who spoke about Resilience was very interesting and motivating.  These Sessions included Tobacco Industry 101, Campaign Planning Skills, Mission Statement Workshop, The Power of Inspiration: Building a connection with your community, Perfecting Policy, Community Activism with Michael Scott and Town Hall Conversations.  The youth really enjoyed the DIY sessions that they could sign up for to ignite their creativity.  Game night, talent show night and a dance were planned closers after long days of gaining knowledge. Read More

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Dixie District Schools Revises Comprehensive Tobacco Policy
May 8, 2023

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in the United States. In 2014, an estimated 16.8% of adults were current cigarette smokers, and 9.2% of high school students smoked cigarettes. Nearly 90% of smokers developed their habit as teenagers, and students’ tobacco use in high school influences their behaviors later in adulthood. In June 2011, local public school districts were authorized to develop new tobacco-free school policies through an amendment to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.

The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) is a statewide, school-based survey effort which is a survey instruments administered to Florida public middle and high school students. During the 2022 FYTS, 13.6% of Dixie County youth reported to use electronic vapor products on school property, 2.5% reported to use smokeless tobacco (dip/chew) on school property.  In 2022 26.5% of Dixie Youth reported to be current users of vape. Administrators, staff, students and parents at the Dixie County Schools have shared concerns with the growing trend of vaping on school grounds.

At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, Amanda NesSmith, a new member of the Dixie County School Board and also a parent of two Dixie County youth requested more information on the vaping epidemic in the schools.  She wanted to determine how the school code of conducts in each schools address the vaping concern.  The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County shared the need for the Dixie County School Board to adopt a comprehensive Tobacco/Nicotine Free Schools Policy that addresses vaping and any other new tobacco products on the market. Read More

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Dixie County Commission is Considering Smoke-Free Parks
March 2, 2023

On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Amanda NesSmith, DCTFP Co-Chair presented to the Dixie County Board of County Commissioners about the need to pass a Resolution to prohibit smoking and vaping in public beaches and parks.

 

Amanda contacted the Commissioners’ Office to be put on the agenda for the meeting so that she could address the 2017 Resolution “Supporting Tobacco-Free Recreational and Sports Parks for Adult and Youth in Dixie County, Florida”.  At that time, a resolution was the only legal form that the County Commissioners could express their concerns for the health of their community and protect youth from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke at the County Parks.  Since that time, electronic cigarettes, or vaping, has grown to become an epidemic in all communities among youth.  The ongoing research on these products have begun to show that the aerosol produced by vape products contains at least ten chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.  By standers exposed to vaping aerosol can absorb the nicotine.  Exposure to the fine and ultra-fine particles highly concentrated in the aerosol may exacerbate respiratory aliments like asthma, and constrict arteries which could trigger a heart attack.

House Bill 105, which was signed into legislation in June 2022 grants counties and cities the ability to ban smoking at public parks and beaches.  Amanda shared how HB105 will allow the Dixie County Commissioners to pass an Ordinance in Dixie County that could prohibit all use of tobacco and vaping in the county parks and beaches. 

Amanda shared that an ordinance to ban smoking and vaping at the parks and beaches will further advance public health by reducing second-hand smoke and vape. She also shared that according to the American Poison Control Center reports, nearly 13,000 poisoning cases involving exposure to cigarettes, cigarette butts, vapor-generating devices, or other tobacco products in 2018 and 79% of those cases occurred with children aged 5 years and younger. Reducing contact with the products will result in a decrease chance of poisoning of the youth of Dixie County. Read More

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Dixie County SWAT Members Conduct Clean-Up at Waldo Park
February 24, 2023

On Friday, February 24 at 3:00 p.m., the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County and the Dixie County High School SWAT Club conducted a city park clean-up Waldo Park, 1950 NE 389th Ave, Old Town, referred as “Spillers Park”.  Waldo Park is owned by Dixie County. Five SWAT youth, Lola Butler, the Partnership Chair, Melanie Anderson, the Tobacco Free Florida Provider/QuitDoc, Kody Latham, the Prevention Specialist for the Henley Foundation and a guest conducted the clean-up.

This park was recommended by the youth representatives at the February Partnership Meeting because it is maintained by the county and it is in a very rural area.  Many of them reported family events and birthday being held at this park.  When the park clean-up began, the park manager, that lives on the park property was present but was not interested in assisting due to his own smoking addiction.

Even though the park seemed very clean of all litter as they began the clean-up, it did not take long to find many cigarette butts around the picnic areas, near the swings, and in the parking area.  A clear plastic bag was filled with the butts gathered.  This county park has a playground area, with 10 covered picnic tables. There was not any “No Smoking” signs anywhere at the park.

 

   

Read More

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Dixie County SWAT Chapter Conducts a Park Clean-UP at Waddle Wheeler Park in Cross City
December 17, 2022

On Saturday, December 17, 2022, at 10:00 a.m., the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County, the Dixie County High School SWAT Club and the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT club conducted a city park clean-up at Wandle Wheeler Park in Cross City, Florida.  Wheeler Park is located right behind the County Courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County Commissioners Office.  Over 20 participated and planned the event.  Members of the Town of Cross City Council and the Sheriffs Office were invited to join the fun and to observe the need for a tobacco free parks policy by SWAT youth. 

In June 2022, Governor DeSantis signed HB105, the legislation that grants city and county governments the ability to ban smoking at public parks and beaches. This new law could potentially impact Florida’s 67 county park systems and more than 400 city park systems.  In the past years, all a county or city could do was pass a Resolution and post signage. Now that the Florida Clean Air Act has been passed, Dixie County and the Town of Cross City can take a major beneficial step to protect their communities by passing an ordinance to make beaches and parks tobacco, smoke and vape free. 

  The Town of Cross City manage Wandle Wheeler Park, which has signage at all entrances that state the park rules that include no tobacco.  During the park clean-up, one adult was seen smoking from a picnic area.  The youth shared with other park attendees that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. There are thousands of deaths each year associated with secondhand smoke. Children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke have an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, physical and cognitive development abnormalities, and cancer. There were several families that visited the park to play at the playground, eat at one of the picnic areas and to play basketball at the ball court. Read More     
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Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Celebrates Annual Not a Lab Rat Day!
October 19, 2022

The fifth annual Not A Lab Rat Day took place this year, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) was ready to spread the word on the health effects of e-cigarettes, promote prevention (never starting) and encourage youth to quit vaping. SWAT, Florida's youth-led movement, empowers and encourages youth to protect themselves and future generations by taking a stand against the e-cigarette industry.

The Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT youth held a NALR Day event at the RRMS basketball game against Bronson Middle School (Levy County). The SWAT youth set up a booth highlighting Not A Lab Rat Day as a rallying to stand up and declare that they refuse to be Big Tobacco's "lab rats" as we continue to learn more about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes.

Nine of the RRMS SWAT youth planned the event, set up a table with Electronic Vaping Products (EVP’s) information to inform youth and adults about the Vaping epidemic.  Adults learned about the many different forms of vaping devices and some of the common names of these devices.

Read More

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The Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter to Work on Smoke-Free Local 
September 27, 2022

Dixie County SWAT clubs are excited to be celebrating 15 years of working with the QuitDoc Foundation in Dixie County.  This year has already begun with exciting plans to work on a policy creating Tobacco-Free/Smoke-Free Parks and Beaches in Dixie County and the Town of Cross City.

During the Summer, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 105 that allow counties and municipalities to regulate smoking at public park and beaches.  This bill updates the Florida Clean Air Act and gives local governments an opportunity to implement new Tobacco Free public spaces that could reduce tobacco use, protect youth and decrease exposure to secondhand smoke. This will allow Dixie County and the Town of Cross City to adopt ordinances that reflects the Tobacco Free Parks and Beaches passed in 2012.  


Across the nation, cigarettes are by far the most littered item in the country.  Here in Florida, for over 30 years, cigarette butts have been the most found item in Ocean Conservancy’s annual Florida beach cleanup.  The Dixie County SWAT youth plan to work with the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County to conduct park and beaches cleanups throughout the county to highlight the need for Dixie County to adopt a Tobacco Free Parks and Beaches Ordinance.  Read More

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Meet Amanda NesSmith, The Co-Chair of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County!
September 22, 2022

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County Co-Chair, Amanda NesSmith has committed to continue serving in her position as co-chair for the second year.  Amanda grew up in Dixie County and has served in the Florida Army National Guard for 20 years and continues in Recruiting & Retention for the Guard.  Amanda is married with two kids in Dixie County Schools.  She was recently elected to fill the Dixie County School Board District 2 seat.  Her commitment to the Dixie County is shown throughout her years and continues through the partnership. 


Amada shares that tobacco addiction has affected many members of her family and their health conditions due to smoking cigarettes include heart attack and COPD.  Amanda has family members who have quit smoking and ones who would like to quit but battle the addiction.  Amanda joined the Tobacco Free Partnership with hopes to promote the Tobacco Free Florida Cessation Programs in the community, but she also shares a strong need to work on tobacco prevention.

Amanda's daughter in the middle school has already reported exposure to vaping in the bathrooms at the school.  Educating the community on the Vaping Epidemic and promoting tobacco/nicotine free polices in Dixie County is a goal of the Tobacco Free Partnership.
Read More

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Dixie County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Hold Recruitment Event
May 13, 2022

On May 13, 2022 the Dixie County High School SWAT Club held an end-of-the-year SWAT Recruitment and tobacco/vape free information table during the two DCHS Lunches.  Every student at DCHS was able to attend and participate in this event.  The DCHS SWAT club was excited to present to their peers about the dangers of tobacco, smokeless tobacco and vape. 

After setting up a dunking booth, the SWAT youth allowed students to participate only after they read out-loud a fact that was provided by the SWAT Club.  One student, a DCHS Baseball player read that “Cigarettes kill 1 out of every 3 people who use them” and he shared that he was shocked, and that he couldn’t believe that so may are harmed by a legal product. 

Many of the other tobacco facts that were highlighted by the students were:

Read More

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Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County Recognizes Graduating SWAT Seniors for Their Tobacco Prevention Efforts
May 12, 2022

The Dixie County High School graduating class of 2022 has eleven Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) student that were given a plaque from the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County.  The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County honored the DCHS Seniors for all that they have done not only as a SWAT members, but also as very active partnership members.

 
Pictured from L to R: Lola Butler (Partnership Chair) Alice Whittington, Maddison Robson,
Aaliyah Sutton, Melanie Anderson (Tobacco Prevention Specialist), Wendy Hutchison (DCHS SWAT Advisor), Livia Bennett, Mary Whittington, Kimberly Young-Carver, Amanda NesSmith (Partnership Co-Chair); Not Pictured: Lauren Marcu, Jordan Downing, Desiree Barshay, Shyanne Sheets, and Jasimine  Stout. 

These impressive young woman that have been great examples of youth leaders and have been very important in continuing the adult/youth partnership. These Seniors have attended all of the Partnership Meetings, served as partnership Youth Representatives, Subcommittee Members, and representatives of the partnership at many community events. 

Every year of the Dixie County Chamber of Commerce, Cross City Fly-In and Business Expo, they have held a booth for both the SWAT clubs and for the Tobacco Free Partnership.  They have participated in County Community Health Events such as “Town of Cross City Fall Health Festival”. Read More

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SWAT Spotlight: Meet Alice Whittington!
March 21, 2022

In 6th grade, with the start of middle school, Alice Whittington decided to join the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT Club.  Alice and her sister Mary both became very active in SWAT.  Their first year, they both promoted SWAT throughout their school but they also attended the Cross City Fly-In and Business Expo where they talked to other youth and parents about the dangers of tobacco and how the tobacco industry was targeting them in the middle school.  The Middle School SWAT club also set up a display of 88 Barbie Dolls to show how many Floridians died each day by the use of tobacco.

Each year, Alice ran for office and became the president of the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT Club, and as she transferred to Dixie County High School she continued as a very active SWAT officer.  Alice attended many of the State and Regional 2 SWAT Training through the years becoming a recognized face among the other counties SWAT Clubs. 

     

Even with Alice taking multiple AP honors and duel enrollment classes, earning over 100 community service hours, cheerleading, weightlifting, soccer, Beta, FCA, HOSA, Drama, Student Government, Student Council, National Honor Society, Rotary and baseball announcing, she has been a very strong voice for SWAT in Dixie County, presenting to the Dixie County Commissioners, the Dixie Legislative Delegation, City of Cross City and the Dixie County School Board on tobacco and vaping policies. Read More

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Local Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Attend Regional Training
November 6, 2021

On Saturday, November 6, 2021, Mr. Charlie Heidelburg, the Character Community SWAT Club Advisor and two SWAT youth attended the Region 2 SWAT Virtual Meeting via GoToWebinar.  Mr. Charlie planned a watch party at the Character Community Private School so that the SWAT youth can attend on the school lap tops and have internet access.

The Region 2 SWAT Meeting began at 12:00 p.m. and ended at 2:00 p.m. with a break time.  After they welcome, introductions, and county attendance the SWAT youth participated in fun icebreakers.  The presentation entitled “Science Behind Nicotine Addiction” was given to highlight nicotine is the addicting chemical in all tobacco products and in vape.  Other presentations given were “SWAT Basics” and “SWAT in the Community” that were designed to promote a strong local SWAT Club and SWAT Chapter in Dixie County.  The youth that attended this presentation will be able to share with the rest of the SWAT youth in their club and SWAT youth in the Dixie County Chapter the many ways that they can be a voice in the community. Read More 

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Learn About the Mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County!

The Mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) of Dixie County is to protect our community from the dangers of inhaled nicotine products and secondhand smoke exposure through evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation strategies with an emphasis on youth and other disparate populations. Our work is guided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, as mandated by the Florida Constitution.

Best Practices of prevention strategies include preventing initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults, promoting quit attempts among adults and youth, eliminating secondhand smoke exposure, and identifying and eliminating tobacco-related disparities among certain populations.

Key in achieving this is our local Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) groups. Group of youth meet to regularly to mobilize their peers and deglamorize Big-Tobacco. In our county we have 3 groups and 50 members, and we regularly participate in local events to recruit more youth members. Dixie County High School SWAT are planning to present to the 8th grade classes on tobacco, nicotine and for recruitment for the SWAT club.  They are also preparing for a training in the new year that will prepare them for speaking to the Dixie County School Board about the need for a Tobacco and Vape policy. Read More

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The QuitDoc Foundation will be Continuing its Tobacco Prevention Efforts in Dixie County through 2030
September 9, 2021

In June 2021 the State of Florida Department of Health awarded the Tobacco Free Florida Grant, in Dixie County, to the QuitDoc Foundation.  This grant provides tobacco awareness and the prevention program in Dixie County. The program is designed to reduce the number of youth who start tobacco and nicotine each year, to decrease the number of tobacco related deaths, and to provide information on appropriate methods to cessation. Over the past twelve years in Dixie County, the TFP and SWAT, under the leadership of Quit Doc, have recruited the help of local organizations, business leaders, and decision makers to address these issues.  

The advocacy efforts of the TFP and the SWAT Chapter, under the leadership of Quit Doc Foundation, has resulted in several local policy changes. This will continue to be an ongoing commitment of Quit Doc Foundation and under the leadership the community-based support they have built in Dixie County around tobacco free social norms that has the potential de-normalize tobacco use in our community.

Incoming TFP Co-Chairs, Amanda NesSmith (L) and Lola Butler.

The Dixie County Tobacco Prevention program will continue to be managed by Melanie Anderson, the county’s Tobacco Prevention Specialist since 2009.  Melanie Anderson will continue to be a part of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County, which is coalition of community leaders that will be working together on tobacco issues that affect the residents of Dixie County. The Partnership will be working on several initiatives to reduce youth access to tobacco and nicotine products, to reduce illnesses and exposure to secondhand smoke, and to promote tobacco cessation services throughout the county. Read More

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The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County Collects Data on Local Point-of-Sale Tobacco Advertising
June 1, 2021

In the first few months of this year, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County and the Dixie County Tobacco Prevention Specialist have been conducting a data collection in the Dixie County tobacco retail environment.  Over a few months, seventeen tobacco retailers were assessed using the Florida Store Assessment created by CounterTools.  This assessment was conducted on most of the Dixie County tobacco retailers including convenience store, gas stations, grocery stores, and large chain retailers. 

CounterTools conducted the data analysis from all sixty-seven counties in Florida to create the Dixie County Tobacco Store Assessment Summary 2020-2021, comparing the state average and each county retailers’ assessments.  In Dixie County, 83% of the tobacco retailers assessed were convenience and/or gas stations.  Over 94% of retailers assessed in Dixie County had posted aged of 21 for tobacco sales.  Every retailer assessed sold cigarettes, smokeless tobacco (dip, chew) and cigarillos. 64% of all retailers sold a form of electronic cigarette (e-cigs, vape, etc.) which highlights the growth in youth vaping use. 

 

An emerging nicotine product that was in 47% of all Dixie County retailers is an oral nicotine. These can be lozenges, orbs, strips, sticks, or pouches that do not contain tobacco leaf.  Examples of these are On!, Velo, Zyn, and Dryft.  The local retailers that sell these products post advertising on doors, windows and near the cash register.  Many adults do not know what these new products are and do not recognize the ads. Tobacco and nicotine products and advertisements at the point-of-sale prompt youth to start using these products. 

Statewide, 8.6% of retailers assessed had self-service displays, where there is access to tobacco products without a clerk assistance.  35% of the Dixie County tobacco retailers assessed had tobacco products where the customer can take the tobacco product instead of having to ask for assistance. Over 80% of those retailers had cigarillos as self-service displays and most often cost less than a dollar. 

   

Read More

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Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) in Dixie County Attend Annual Cross City Fly-In Event
Appril 24, 2021

On April 24, 2021, the Dixie County High School SWAT club and the Ruth Rains Middle School SWAT clubs set up a booth at the Cross City Fly-In, Cruise-In and Business Expo in honor of the Dixie County Centennial Celebration.  Both the SWAT Advisors and the Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Dixie County assisted in setting up the booth, but the SWAT youth spent the entire day talking to kids, youth and adults about how big tobacco and vape industries target them to become their customers for life. 

The SWAT youth were also able to present to State Representative Chuck Clemons during the event and shared their concerns with the lies from the vaping industry and how they will not be “Lab Rats” while they test their nicotine products on kids. 

Each SWAT youth was able to share with kids by having them spin a wheel with different parts of the body that is affected by tobacco use and reading off tobacco facts that tied in with the body part.  Kids and youth of all ages were very interested in how to be healthy and how to share with their family members how to stay tobacco free. 

Youth from around the county were encouraged to join SWAT and explained how they can become part of the solution with nicotine addiction.  The youth were able to touch and see the lung replicas that represented a healthy lung and a smoker’s lung.  Many adults either shared that they had seen lungs like that in their medical training or they shared how shocked they are were after seeing “Black Lung”. Read More

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Dixie County Welcomes Flex, Our New Drug Detection K-9 Officer!
March 15, 2021

Dixie County High School SWAT President, Desiree Barshay, interviewed Kyle Schultz, the Dixie County High School Criminal Justice Instructor to learn more about the new K-9 named Flex. Flex is a 15-month-old Belgium Malinois German Shepard Mix. He was imported from Europe in November.

Before reaching Schultz, Flex underwent a 6-week process where he was first evaluated by CRK9 in Ocala, Florida. This is called TESTING in the dog world. Everything about the dog’s personality is tested, including his ability to learn, willingness to work, temperament, and social skills.  These were just a few things observed during this period. Think of it like a Doggy physiological evaluation.

 

Once he passed that test, he was selected to begin imprinting on of odors, which is an additional 12-week course. This means the dog is learning what we want him to hunt for. The odors he has been imprinted on are:

      • Marijuana
      • Methamphetamine
      • Cocaine
      • Heroine
      • MDMA/ Ecstasy
      • Hemp
      • CBD
      • Alcohol
      • Nicotine
      • Firearms
Flex has also undergone a 6-week tracking course which was foundational and that means he’s new to tracking people.
   

Since graduating those courses. Flex was given to Schultz to finalize his training.
Over the next 12 weeks he will go through obedience training. Which will finalize Flex’s training. Read More

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Local Tobacco Prevention Issues Discussed at Recent Legislative Delegation Meeting
January 7, 2021

On January 7, 2021 the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist and two Dixie County High School SWAT youth attended the Dixie Legislative Delegation Hearing to speak to the State Senator Jennifer Bradley and the State Representative for Region 21, Chuck Clemons at the Dixie County Court House to present SWAT and partnership objectives and successes.

Students Working Against Tobacco, or SWAT, is a youth advocacy group that promotes leadership and community involvement to empower young people to work towards a nicotine-free future.  All three SWAT clubs in Dixie County work side-by-side with adults from the local Tobacco-Free Partnership of Dixie County, a diverse group of community partners, to promote nicotine-free social norms through education, advocacy, and policy change to prevent usage of tobacco products by youth and young adults.  

Many of the Dixie County SWAT events are held during National Tobacco Control Observances such as “Through with Chew Week” and “The Great American Smoke-Out”.  Other events focus on state tobacco control observances such as “Not a Lab Rat Day” and “The Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action 2021”.  These events are used to encourage cessation attempts, to promote prevention and to increase support towards tobacco control policies in Dixie County.  Read More