News and Events

Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County Holds Final Meeting of 2022
December 7, 2022

Sebring, FL— December 7, 2022 — The Highlands County Tobacco Free Partnership (HCTFP) closed out 2022 with a collaborative meeting with the following organizations:

Pictured L to R: Scott Kirouac, Amanda John, Dawn Drake, Laura Andrews, Zaida Rojas, Jessica Carlson (Partnership picture does not include all that were in attendance)

“I always walk away from the partnership meetings with new knowledge about how tobacco prevention and these conversations can make a difference. It is a long game conversation but I appreciate how willing the partnership is to share their experience and ideas on how we can all do better as a community” states HCTFP Chair, Laura Andrews. 

Laura passed the discussion to Dusty McGee, with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department, who is direclty involved in the vaping crisis that is happening within our school system on a daily basis. Dusty gave an informed update into what is really going on with our youth, particularly at the Junior High and High School level. But, he also addressed the incidents that are happening within the Elementary School - 4th / 5th grade. 

“Vaping is a continuing problem that seems to be getting worse, not better. Kids are getting the products from parents, older siblings and/or stores that are distributing to minors. We have been in contact with ATF and will start working with an agent out of Tampa, FL in the coming months to help combat this epidemic by increasing “buys” and revoking licenses for those that continue to distribute illegally. With the help of ATF, our local SWAT kids, tougher policies by our our elected officials, and parent awareness - we can make a difference."

The group collaborated on three major actions for next quarter: 

  1. Better signage at the public parks and beaches to include vaping verbiage. 
  2. Present the local challenges and alarming statistics re: vaping usage to the School Board, and new elected Board Members. 
  3. Recruit more members of the school board to the partnership. 

We welcome anyone that is interested in getting involved and making a difference within our Highlands County Community to contact Jessica Carlson - to be added to the March 1, 2023 Meeting Agenda. Meetings are held at the Sebring Chamber of Commerce; first Wednesday of each month - March, June, September and December from 9-10am. 

Together, we are better!