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Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County Continues Toward Policy Change Goals
September 11, 2020

The pandemic may have cancelled or postponed many of the community gatherings that the Tobacco Free Partnership (TFP) of Levy County relies on to share information about tobacco control issues, however, partnership members have not lost focus on their vision to advance tobacco prevention awareness and work toward a tobacco free Levy County.  

Partnership members have been sharing information and resources with community decisionmakers, stakeholders, and organizations virtually since April, and partnership meetings will be hosted virtually through the remainder of 2020. Members have spent this time reviewing and revising the partnership’s bylaws and charter documents, reviewing leadership positions, promoting free virtual tobacco cessation classes, sharing tobacco prevention and control resources online, and recruiting new members from various sectors of the community.

The TFP is dedicated to the creation of tobacco free social norms through a combination of community education, youth advocacy, and changes in local policies. The mission of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County reflects the goals of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Best Practices for Tobacco Control, which recommends policy change to create and maintain tobacco free social norms.

For the past few years, the partnership has focused community education efforts on the dangers of tobacco and nicotine addiction, the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure, policies to create tobacco free community events and venues, promoting cessation from tobacco use, advocating for tobacco retail licensing requirements, and tobacco free schools and worksites.

The partnership also supports the efforts of the youth prevention side of the program, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), which is a statewide youth-oriented tobacco prevention advocacy organization based in the schools and communities of Levy County, with an approximate membership of 200 students between the ages of 10 and 18.

The SWAT County Representative serves as the youth co-chair of the partnership, working with Advisory Council members to advance policy change goals. Many SWAT youth sharpen their critical thinking and public speaking skills by working alongside partnership members to prepare speeches for presentations to decision makers about how the tobacco industry markets and advertises their products to entice youth.

Some of the past policy change initiatives achieved by the partnership include an ordinance to place tobacco products behind the counter and away from youth at retail outlets in Cedar Key; a tobacco free schools policy; tobacco free public housing; and tobacco free policies at public venues and events, including: the Levy County Fair, the Cedar Key Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, the Cedar Key Seafood Festival, the Tri County World’s Greatest Baby Shower event, the Chiefland Back to School Bash, and the grounds of the Tri County Community Resource Center.

The partnership is currently accepting Advisory Council nominations. Advisory Council members assume leadership roles in the community relating to tobacco control advocacy, education, prevention, and policy change. Advisory Council members include a partnership chair, a youth co-chair, vice-chair, and secretary. To learn more about the Tobacco Free Partnership of Levy County or to get involved in any of our initiatives, please contact us at info@TFP-Levy.org or 352-577-4309.