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Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands Honors Community


(Papillion, NE) – It was a full house for Tobacco Education & Advocacy of the Midlands’ (T.E.A.M.) Annual Community Recognition Luncheon at CHI Health Midlands hospital in Papillion on Thursday, June 22, 2023.


Over the past several years, our community, along with our country, has seen a dramatic increase in youth vaping. Last year in Nebraska, the percentage of students reporting having ever used an e-cigarette almost doubled from the 2015 data with nearly one in every two Hispanic students (48.6%) reported they had used an e-cigarette in their lifetime.


Nebraska youth e-cigarette current daily use more than doubled from 9.0% in 2017 to 22.6% in 2019 and then decreased to 14.1% in 2022.


Caroline Bennett, Community Outreach Specialist with the Washington, D.C. based Truth Initiative’s Community and Youth Engagement team, focused her keynote address on the epidemic of teenage vaping and its intersection with youth’s mental health. Truth Initiative is America’s largest nonprofit public health organization dedicated to a future where tobacco and nicotine addiction are a thing of the past. Their mission is to achieve a culture where young people reject smoking, vaping, and nicotine.


 T.E.A.M. presented awards to individuals, businesses, and organizations for their efforts within commercial tobacco control and prevention. 


Awards presented were:


  • Advocate of the Year: Senator Tony Vargas

  • Outdoor Recreation Facility of the Year: Scatter Joy Acres

  • Partner of the Year: Tobacco Free Lancaster County

  • Leadership Award: Mike Francis

  • Organization of the Year: Historic Downtown Plattsmouth Association

  • Leadership Award: Kayla Kill


T.E.A.M. is a community coalition of more than a hundred members that work together to reduce the negative impact of commercial tobacco in Sarpy & Cass Counties.  The coalition  meets virtually  on the 4th Thursday of the month at 11:30 am. To register to join a meeting or become a member; visit  


Photo L to R: 

Senator Tony Vargas; Autumn Sky Burns,T.E.A.M; Mike Francis; Joy Bartling, Scatter Joy Acres; Sadie Jensen, Tobacco Free Lancaster County; Leigh Jean Koinzan, Lyn Belitz, Sarah Johnson, Historic Downtown Plattsmouth Association; Kayla Kill; Caroline Bennett, Truth Initiative; Becky Smart, T.E.A.M. 

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