News and Events

Tobacco Free Fair Coming Soon to Levy County!
September 1, 2017

Over the past seven years, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County has participated in the Levy County Fair as either a sponsor and/or also set up a booth every year to share cessation resources with attendees as well as information on the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. For the past five years, the fair board has designated certain areas of the fair as tobacco free, such as the main entertainment tent, the exhibitor’s tent, and the tents housing all the animals.

Last year, Levy Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members started polling fair attendees about their support for a tobacco free fair and collected over 500 signatures on support cards from individuals who interacted with them at their fair booth. People overwhelmingly supported protecting children from exposure to secondhand smoke, and many of the Miss Levy County Fair pageant attendees and folks accompanying show animals also expressed their support for a tobacco free fair.

This year, the Levy SWAT Chapter and the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County decided that they wanted to approach the fair board and see if they are ready to pass a tobacco free policy for the entire event. Levy SWAT Representative Laycee Hallman, a Senior at Williston High School, attended the Levy County Fair Board of Directors’ meeting this summer along with Levy Community Health Advocate, Kristina Zachry.

Laycee and Kristina shared information with the group about the participation SWAT has had over the past seven years at the Levy County Fair. They recounted the early experiences of students volunteering at the SWAT prevention bus. It was randomly placed next to the clown dunk tank, which happened to feature a chain smoking clown who barked a litany of insults to passersby to get them to pay to attempt to dunk him. Over the years, the SWAT booth was placed in a more suitable location, but even more importantly, the Levy County Fair Board started working to establish some breathe easy zones under the main tents, which kicked off with sponsorship of the event by Tobacco Free Florida.

Kristina and Laycee also shared information about the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke, noting specifically its effects on children and animals, which are prominent at the fair. Finally, Laycee asked the board if they would consider passing a policy for the fair next Spring to be tobacco free. The board agreed and decided that they would like to create a tobacco free fair with a designated tobacco use area away from the crowds. The Tobacco Free Partnership will work with the board to craft the language for their new policy as well as providing assistance with signage and advertisement of the new policy.

Laycee enjoyed the opportunity to use her public speaking skills. “Presenting in front of the Levy County Fair Board was exciting, as well as nerve wracking, because of the importance,” she says. “Everyone on the board was very nice and generous for giving us the opportunity to present to them and in the end, they voted to go tobacco free, which is amazing.”