By CBSMiami.com Team

SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The Rick Case Automotive Group is making history by becoming the first automotive group in Florida and Georgia to implement a tobacco-free policy change for all customers and staff.

Rita Case, President and CEO of Rick Case Automotive Group led a celebration on Thursday at the company headquarters in Sunrise surrounded by Sunrise City officials, Sunrise Police Department staff and other officials.

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The milestone was also celebrated during the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, a day designed to encourage smokers to come up with a plan to quit, or plan in advance and initiate a smoking cessation plan.

“We wanted to celebrate it today because we started this October 1 over a month ago. And so, we’re very excited to have started this initiative and be the first car dealership to do it,” explained Rita Case. “It’s all about educating our associates on the risks of smoking, providing them with the tools to quit, and then you know, to show them how healthy they can be if they do quit. So, this is not necessarily about everybody quitting smoking, or making mandatory that people smoke or quit smoking. It’s about us educating our associates on the risks of smoking and then providing them with a smoke free campus, that tobacco free campus that includes vaping as well.”

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The tobacco-free policy is in place at all Rick Case Automotive locations.

Each dealership has volunteers who help those who may be struggling, and they are called ‘champions.’

“Our wellness champions took on as volunteers each one of our dealerships to help people through, but our customers and our associates are very appreciative of our initiative to provide them with all of the tools that it takes for them to quit smoking, and to be a support for them,” said Case.

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Smoking is the No.1 cause of preventable death and illness in the United States. According to the CDC, smoking costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year and each day about 1,600 youth try their first cigarette.

CBSMiami.com Team