The Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County Honors Community Leaders for Their Work on Local Tobacco Prevention Issues
By Dr. Barry Hummel, Jr., Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation

On May 23, 2013, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County presented their annual Tobacco Prevention Awards to local community leaders at the organization’s quarterly meeting.
The Tobacco Prevention Awards are presented each year to groups or individuals who have made an exceptional contribution towards one of the goals of the Tobacco Free Partnership.
The 2013 Community Champion Award was shared by Stuart City Commissioner Kelli Glass Leighton and Stuart Mayor Eula Clarke for their work on a Resolution encouraging retailers to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products that target children and teenagers. The Resolution was adopted unanimously by the Stuart City Commission in February 2013.

Eula Clarke

Dr Barry Hummel and Valerie Graham present Stuart Mayor Eula Clarke
with the 2013 Community Champion Award.

Michele Waddill, the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Advisor from Murray Middle School, was presented with the SWAT Advisor of the Year Award.  Mrs. Waddill has been the SWAT advisor for the last four years, building one of the most stable programs in Martin County. This year the club participated in several awareness projects on campus, including an annual anti-tobacco poster contest open to all of the Murray Middle School students.

Megan Koenig, the SWAT President from Martin County High School, received the SWAT Youth of the Year Award. Megan has been actively involved in SWAT for the last three years, and has participated in every successful policy initiative in Martin County during that time. Megan will be attending the University of Florida in the fall, and she has already asked about the possibility of continuing to volunteer with the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation in North Florida.

Megan Koenig

Megan Koenig receives the 2013 SWAT Youth of the Year Award from Dr. Barry Hummel.

Four Community Partner of the Year Awards were presented.

Stuart Vice Mayor Troy McDonald was recognized as a Community Partner for his passionate voice on the issue of flavored tobacco. Vice Mayor McDonald actually addressed the issue during meetings with the Martin County Legislative Delegation while visiting Tallahassee with the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce. His interest in the issue has led to a discussion of possible statewide action to restrict youth access to these products.

Robyn Vanover, Prevention Specialist for the Martin County School District, has helped to integrate tobacco prevention programs into the schools. She was recognized as a Community Partner for bringing the issue of free tobacco samples at a local community event to the attention of the City of Stuart. This has led to new language in the City of Stuart's contract with event planners and vendors to prohibit this is the future.

Robyn Vanover

Robyn Vanover receives a 2013 Community Partner Award from Valerie Graham.

Dot Brooking from Project Northland / Tykes & Teens, was recognized as a Community Partner for her work on the annual Drug Prevention Poster Contest. This contest is conducted each year, and winners are determined by voting at the annual Martin County Fair. This year, she expanded the contest to include tobacco prevention as a separate category. The finalists were displayed at the annual ArtFest. Here efforts help to inspire youth to remain substance free and acknowledge the role of tobacco as a gateway drug.

Dot Brooking

Dot Brooking receives a 2013 Community Partner Award for her efforts on youth substance prevention.

Holly Laiben, from CHARACTER COUNTS!, was recognized as a Community Partner for her work to create a campaign promoting the positive trends in Youth Substance Use in Martin County as highlighted in the 2012 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey and the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. Mrs. Laiben brought together community Partners, including the CHARACTER COUNTS!, United Way of Martin County, Martin County School District, Tykes & Teens, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Martin County to create a poster, banner, and billboard campaign to reach youth with the message that most Martin County teenagers are choosing NOT to use and abuse drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.


Justin Beard (left) and Robyn Vanover accept the 2013 Community Partner Award on behalf of Holly Laiben.

Holly Laiben

Holly Laiben (center) later receives her award from Justin Beard,
and United Way of Martin County Executive Director Jim Vojcsik (right).

Finally, several other organizations were recognized their Outstanding Smoke Free Initiatives over the last year.

The City of Stuart was recognized for their swift action on both the issue of flavored tobacco products that target underage youth and the availability of tobacco samples at street festivals sanctioned by the City of Stuart. In particular, the language added to vendor contracts for future events held on city property will eliminate the availability of such tobacco samples in the future, making sure that these products do not land in the wrong hands.

City of Stuart

Mayor Eula Clarke accepts an Outstanding Smoke Free Initiative Award on behalf of the City of Stuart, presented by Martin County Tobacco Prevention Specialist Kim Waser.

The Children's Services Council was recognized for implementing comprehensive tobacco free policies to coincide with the opening of their new, green building. They have educated visitors on the issue, and added a tobacco free policy to the agreements required to utilize the meeting rooms.

Laura Haase

Laura Haase accepts an Outstanding Smoke Free Initiative Award on behalf of the Children's Services Council.

Sandhill Cove, a large employer in Palm City, recently made a commitment to their staff to assist all tobacco users in cessation efforts in any way possible. This initiative started during the Great American Smoke Out last November, when they provided their staff with the opportunity to meet during work to discuss their plan to quit. Sandhill Cove continues to work with the Tobacco Free Partnership to make sure that every employee has access to tobacco cessation services.

Sandhill Cove

Pat Szczesny accepts an Outstanding Smoke Free Initiative Award on behalf of Sandhill Cove
for promoting tobacco cessation resources among their staff.

Helping People Succeed started looking for ways to implement new cessation policies into their wellness plan. The Tobacco Free Partnership has been involved in this process, and was invited to participate in their employee wellness in-service day, to promote the benefits of tobacco cessation and available resources for employees interested in making a quit attempt.

Madeleine Greenwood

Madeleine Greenwood accepts an Outstanding Smoke Free Initiative Award on behalf of
Helping People Succeed for promoting tobacco cessation resources among their staff.

The work of the Tobacco Free Partnership would not be possible without the support and the effort of all of its members. This year’s award winners once again demonstrated a special commitment to tobacco prevention that will make a positive difference in Martin County.

For more information on the work of the Tobacco Free Partnership, or to become a member, contact Kim Waser at, or visit