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August 28, 2017

Autumn Burns, T.E.A.M Coordinator, Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands, (402) 593-3022

Cass & Sarpy Coalitions Merge to Form T.E.A.M

For the last 15 years, Tobacco Free Sarpy and Tobacco Free Cass County have been educating, advocating, and fighting big tobacco to address the multiple negative impacts of tobacco in our community.  In August, the two coalitions officially joined forces and created Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands (T.E.A.M).

Do you know how tobacco affects our community?

Our Health. Smoking is still the #1 cause of preventable death, killing 6 million people a year, including 2,500 Nebraskans.  That’s more than the entire population of Ashland that dies every single year, right here in the good life.  Families are losing their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents because of tobacco. There are walks in the park, job promotions, baseball games, home purchases, weddings, and graduations – all missed because of a product that if used correctly; will maim or kill you. 

Our Youth. The tobacco industry spends over a million dollars an hour on marketing. Internal tobacco marketing documents prove that the industry spends those dollars specifically marketing to ages 12-15.  In Nebraska – 1,800 youth under age 18 become daily smokers each year. 

Our Budget. Businesses lose $532 million worth of productivity due to smoking, plus Nebraska spends $795 million on smoking-related health care costs per year.  That means state tax payers are annually spending $727 per person, regardless of age, on smoking-related health care expenses and lost productivity. Nebraska also has the 9th lowest cigarette taxes in the U.S. 

Our Environment. Cigarette waste is the #1 littered item on the planet.  These butts are filled with cancer causing chemicals that get into our soil, groundwater, lakes, streams, sidewalks, and playgrounds.

The coalition is led by Autumn Burns, T.E.A.M Sarpy Coordinator and Becky Smart, T.E.A.M Cass Coordinator under fiscal agent CHI Midlands Health. A Steering Committee representing multiple community sectors advocating for tobacco-free environments includes T.E.A.M Chair, Sarpy/Cass Health Department Assistant Health Director Jenny Steventon; T.E.A.M Chair-Elect, City of Plattsmouth Recreation Director Michael Lennon; Sarpy County CASA Program Director Paula Creps; Plattsmouth Chamber of Commerce Director Cindy Cruse; Pavilion at Twin Creek Property Manager Cindy Dropinski; American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Mike Francis; Novatis Respiratory Clinical Specialist Dee Humm; Bellevue Housing Authority Executive Director Carolyn Pospisil; and Sarpy Community YMCA Executive Director Katlin Wilson.

T.E.A.M meets every 4th Thursday of the month from 11:30-12:30pm at CHI Health Midlands in the Smith Suite.  Please join us next month, we serve a light lunch.  For questions please call 402-593-3022 or email

Please see the accompanying photo.


Funding provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services/Tobacco Free Nebraska Program as a result of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.


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Western Feeders 4-H club summer meetings

The Western Feeders 4-H club was very active this summer.  They met a total of five times this summer.  On May 25, 2017, they went to Dean and Judy's Iris Patch located in Elmwood, NE.  The members walked around and toured the garden taking pictures.  Carleen Dowling told the club about the Iris garden.  There were reminders about tagging for sheep and goats and discussion at this meeting that the club would like to paint Barn Quilts for the 50th Anniversary of the Cass County Fair to be displayed at the Fairgrounds.  On June 14, 2017, the Western Feeders 4-H club met at the Cupp-Whiteman home and after a supper of hotdogs and hamburgers designed two Barn Quilts to be painted for the Cass County Fair. They also painted boards for the livestock pens. A short meeting followed with reminders about entering animals in the Cass County and State Fair. The next evening, June 15, 2017, several members gathered around 6:30 at the Caddy home to continue painting one barn quilt that had a 4-H theme. On July 19, 201,7 another meeting occurred at the Caddy home to finish the two barn quilts that were to be taken to the Cass County Fair.  The members also brought items to stuff backpacks for back to school supplies and these backpacks were voted to be given to District 145 for children that needed these items. Several reminders were given about state fair along with Cass County Fair.  State Fair entries are due online by 11:59pm on August 31.  Ak-Sar-Ben entries are due online then as well.  The club was also reminded to keep collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House.  The Club decided their next meeting would be held on August 12, 2017 at the Cass County Fair.  At the meeting held at the Cass County Fair before the Premium Sale members told everyone what their favorite things was at the fair.  There were varied responses from showing animals to getting a ribbon at the static exhibits.  Several members said their favorite things was seeing the barn quilts that they had worked so hard on exhibited at the fair.  All members, parents and leaders celebrated the busy and productive summer with ice cream, pie and root beer floats.  Respectively submitted, Olivia Cupp-Whiteman, club newsreporter.

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