News and Events

SWAT Students from Levy County Contribute to "Who is the Target", a Short Film on Youth Tobacco Marketing
April 24, 2014

Students from six counties in North Central Florida joined forces to write and produce "Who is the Target", a short film that focuses on the use of flavored products as a youth marketing strategy by tobacco companies.

Fourteen students from Alachua, Clay, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, and Marion Counties were asked to contribute facts and information on the issue of flavored tobacco products that are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The students then recorded the information at a make-shift studio. Levy County SWAT students Ansley Pentz, Katy Belnap, and Christian Aracena participated in the project.

Levy County Contributors

"I think a project like this gives the SWAT members a creative and productively rebellious way to express how they feel about the tobacco industry targeting them," said Kristina Zachry, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist in Levy County. "It empowered the SWAT members to work on their advocacy and public speaking skills, while thinking critically about their role in tobacco prevention."

Ansley Pentz, a Senior at Chiefland High School, expressed her anger towards the tobacco industry. "The tobacco industry targets youth. Who are these youth? They're students just like me. The tobacco industry packages death in hip cans and boxes. I'm the target here, and I'm tired of it. I won't be Big Tobacco's replacement customer.This video experience offered me a way to use my voice against the tobacco industry's deceptive, candy-coated lies."

Katy Belnap, and 8th-Grade student at Florida Virtual School, felt particularly empowered "Participating in the video made me feel like I could make a difference. It was a great opportunity and I enjoyed it. The final video is great! It conveys a strong message about what the tobacco industry is doing and who they are targeting."

The Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation helped produce the film, setting up a temporary studio at their office in Ocala, Florida. The staff converted a spare office by suspending a simple blue screen from the ceiling. "It is the same technique used by your local weatherman," said Dr. Barry Hummel, who directed the film. "It allows us to put graphic information behind the students during the editing process to reinforce each point they are trying to make."

Christian Aracena, a Sophomore at Chiefland High School, enjoyed the process immensely. "This project was the first experience I've ever had with scripted film. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something that could influence positive change in legislation."

"The students were real pros," added Dr. Hummel. "Picture yourself standing on a blank stage and sharing information while imagining what images might be swirling behind you. This is exactly what these students did, which is all the more impressive when you consider that they ranged in age from 12 to 18."

Once the footage was shot, it was catalogued by Dr. Hummel, who then was tasked with cutting the film together.

"Using the material provided by the students, I had to string together the information to try and tell a linear story," said Dr. Hummel. "Once that was established, the film was populated with numerous pictures of the tobacco products that are being used to aggressively target teenagers."

Dr. Hummel also hopes to use the material to create a number of shorter 30-second and 60-second public service announcements. "With a little luck," he added, "we can get some local media outlets to run a few of these to get the word out on this important problem."

The finished project, "Who is the Target", was made available to the public on April 24, 2013. You can view the film in its entirety here: