News and Events

Traditional Tobacco Use Continues to Decrease Among Highlands County Youth, but E-Cigarette Use Continues to Rise
November 11, 2016

We are excited to announce the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey Results for Highlands County, as well as the statewide data for 2016 is in! This is something the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT Students in Highlands County look forward to every other year!

The Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) was administered in the spring of 2016. A total of 753 public high schools and middle schools in the 67 Florida counties participated in the FYTS. There were 69,640 students who participated in the 2016 FYTS; 33,558 at the high school level and 36,082 at the middle school level. This data is way for public health professionals, students, teachers, parents, and the public to explore data pertaining to youth tobacco use.

In Highlands County, we are happy to announce a decrease in the percentage of youth who have tried cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. In fact, there was a 3.7% drop in those that have tried cigarettes, 6.7% drop in those that have tried cigars and a 2.5% drop in those that have tried smokeless tobacco.

Additionally, we see similar drops in the percentage of youth who currently use cigarettes (3.7% decrease), cigars (4.6% decrease) and smokeless (.3% decrease). For years, tobacco prevention has been at the forefront of providing education and information to decrease the use of tobacco in the Country, State of Florida and in Highlands County. It seems the work continues to pay off as we have seen a decrease in cigarettes, cigars and smokeless for several years now.

However, the raging epidemic of electronic cigarettes, hookah and vaping that Big Tobacco has created is making a mess of the hard work that we have done to minimize tobacco use in this country. We are seeing these effects nationwide, statewide and throughout Highlands County. In fact, since 2014 there has been an 8.2% increase in the percentage of youth in Highlands County who currently use electronic vaping, and a 13.1% increase in the percentage of youth in Highlands County who have ever tried electronic vaping. Additionally, we also see an increase 3.5% in the number of youth in Highlands County who have tried hookah.

“While I love seeing the decrease in traditional tobacco products, it scares me to see the huge jumps in the number of our youth that are electronic vaping. We have our work cut out for us and now how even bigger hurdles to overcome, but we will continue to provide more education and information to our youth and hope that the message is heard loud and clear in Highlands County,” said Amanda John, Community Health Advocate with QuitDoc Foundation.

While we are extremely disappointed in the rise of electronic vaping, we are extremely proud that our Highlands County youth had an increase the number of youth who are committed to never using cigarettes, which is now up to 79.8%. Moreover, our continued work with the School Board of Highlands County has helped decrease the usage of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic vapors on school property.

“We have a lot to be thankful for, but also have a lot to work on. The Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County and Highlands County SWAT Chapter is committed to making Highlands a healthier, tobacco-free County,” said Amanda John

If you would like the full report on the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, more information on how to get involved or have any questions, please contact Amanda John at or (863) 441-5101.