News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County Discusses New Tobacco Prevention Initiatives for the Upcoming Year
August 26, 2016

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County is trying something new this year and changing up the quarterly meeting to a more interactive and innovative way to host the meeting. The first meeting this quarter was held on August 26, 2016 at Nutmegs Café, a locally owned establishment with a charming atmosphere and friendly staff. This choice was made after a Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida workshop training that stressed the importance of being more productive. It’s not only about quantity, rather the quality of the members that you have at your table.

The meeting gave members the opportunity to relax, brainstorm, and enjoy their time processing and discussing tobacco policy initiatives, while enjoying their lunch.

“Let’s face it, people love to eat, they love Friday’s, and who wouldn’t enjoy a hot Italian panini while discussing things they’re passionate about. It’s almost like it isn’t work and your weekend starts early,” said Amanda John, Community Health Advocate in Highlands County. “It really was a breath of fresh air and even though our attendance was low, we go so much accomplished at the same time! I love the idea of jazzing up a typical meeting and I am really looking forward to the things we accomplish and new people we recruit along the way!”

A large portion of the meeting consisted of a Point-of-Sale mini training and presentation.  Recently, Highlands tobacco prevention staff attended a two-day training on Point-of-Sale hosted by Counter Tools and the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida. At this training, staff were trained 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, in parking lots and inside the 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.

So in an effort to move towards policy change within our retail outlets, the Partnership and Tobacco Staff will be conducting store audits on 113 tobacco retail outlets in Highlands County. The results of this audit will be added to a mapper tool that we can utilize to show the density of retailers, the distance the retailer is from a school, compliance check data, and much more, which can assist with policy change efforts in Highlands County.

”We have our work cut out for us the next few months with store audits, but I am really looking forward to the data we will have and what impact it will have on Highlands County and in point-of-sale initiatives.” Said Amanda John.

After this brief training, Partnership members signed up for a POS workgroup and are seeking other individuals that are interested in helping conduct these audits. If you are interested in working on point-of-sale initiatives, please feel free to contact for more information or to be added to the workgroup.