News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County Wins an Environmental Stewardship Award for its Effort to Reduce Tobacco-Related Litter
By Barry Hummel, Jr., MD, Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation
February 9, 2012

On February 8, 2012, the Keep Martin Beautiful awarded the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County with the Environmental Stewardship Award in the Non-Profit/Civic Organization Category.

The Environmental Stewardship Award recognized the Partnership's work to promote tobacco free zones in local parks and beaches as a way to reduce tobacco-related trash. The project involved a two-year effort to increase the number and visability of signs promoting the existing Martin County policy creating smoke-free facilities, and the Florida Litter Statute that includes fines and penalties for tobacco-related trash.

The problem was initially identified by Keep Martin Beautiful, based on data collected during the International Coastal Cleanup. Statistics from that effort revealed that over 45% of litter in Martin County is tobacco-related trash.  This is double the national average of 22%.

Keep Martin Beautiful brought this issue to the Tobacco Free Partnership to see if the group could help to identify solutions to this problem.  The Partnership formed a task force that included Keep Martin Beautiful, Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Students Working Against Tobacco, Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, and Martin County Parks and Recreation to look at the problem of tobacco litter.

On July 21, 2011, the community partners presented their findings to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.  After hearing the presentation, the Board voted to support the concept of signage promoting the existing laws and policies as a way to reduce the impact of tobacco related litter in Martin County parks and beaches.  Kevin Abbate, Director of Parks and Recreation, highlighted the importance of this issue as Martin County works towards being identified as a Top Ten Beach Destination.

At the request of Commissioner Ed Ciampi, the task force members presented their findings to the Board of County Commissioners on July 26, 2011. The County Commissioners then voted unanimously to implement a program to increase signage promoting existing local ordinances and the Florida Statutes designed to reduce litter in local parks and beaches. 

New signs " Tobacco Free Zone" signs were designed by Communities Putting Prevention to Work, and later approved by the Parks and Recreation Department and the County Commissioners. Communities Putting Prevention to Work purchased 110 signs, and the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation contributed funds to purchase hardward for the installation. In January 2012, the Martin County parks and Recreation Department completed the installation of the news signs.

SignPark Installation

 

Going forward, Keep Martin Beautiful will continue to collect data during the International Coastal Cleanup to see if there is a reduction in the percentage of tobacco trash collected during the annual survey.