News and Events

Levy County Youth Work Toward a Tobacco Free Future
March 18, 2016

BRONSON, Fla. – Levy County’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) spoke up and took action against the tobacco industry for the 21st annual Kick Butts Day on March 16th. This national day of activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

SWAT members across Levy planned and participated in activities to raise awareness about the tobacco industry among their peers. Most notable, Cedar Key School SWAT members created eye-catching posters declaring why they are not “replacements” for the people who die due to tobacco use every day, despite being labeled as such by the tobacco industry. SWAT displayed these posters around the school campus and collected one hundred teen signatures on tobacco free pledge cards.

Another impactful activity took place at Chiefland Middle High School. SWAT members set up a table with resources and educational items at school and SWAT members invited the students that they had conversations with to sign tobacco free pledges.

“At our SWAT booth we collected 41 pledges to be tobacco free from students and had the opportunity to speak to them about how Big Tobacco targets kids and teens and uses us as replacements,” said Elena Richardson, a member of Chiefland Middle High School’s SWAT team. “It was interesting to see how many teens were ignorant about this, so it was awesome to shed light on that topic and also to have so many students pledge to be tobacco free.”

Every day, about 1,300 people in the United States die because of smoking. In response, the tobacco companies target a new generation of potential customers. A 1984 internal document from R.J. Reynolds’, the makers of Camel, stated: “Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers… If younger adults turn away from smoking, the industry must decline, just as a population which does not give birth will eventually dwindle.”

Youth and young adults rarely consider the long-term health consequences of smoking when they start. Because of nicotine, a highly addictive drug, three out of four youth smokers continue smoking well into adulthood, often with serious and even deadly consequences. In fact, about half of long-term smokers die prematurely from smoking-related causes.

If current smoking rates continue, 5.6 million U.S. children who are currently younger than 18 years of age will eventually die prematurely as a result of smoking. Most concerning, almost all initiation of daily tobacco use begins by the age of 18.

SWAT aims to empower, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against Big Tobacco. SWAT is a movement of empowered youth working together to de-glamorize tobacco use. Their efforts aim to shape tobacco-free norms, make tobacco less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.

 

About Kick Butts Day

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996.

About Tobacco Free Florida

The department’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Tobacco users interested in quitting are encouraged to use one of the state’s three ways to quit. Since 2007, more than 137,000 Floridians have successfully quit, using one of these free services. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida and the state’s free quit resources, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.

The department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.floridahealth.gov.

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REFERENCES:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking —50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014

R.J. Reynolds report, "Younger Adult Smokers: Strategies and Opportunities." February 29, 1984 .Bates No. 501928462-8550

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking —50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2012.