GET TO KNOW US

We are Big Tobacco’s nightmare. We know their ploys. Their tricks. Their deceit. And we will not tolerate it.

We will not stand by and idly watch tobacco kill our friends and family. We will not be manipulated by a multi-billion dollar industry, nor will we replace the hundreds of addicts that die every day. We will change policy. Reach out to lawmakers. Expose marketing schemes. Influence our peers. And save lives. We are the generation that will stop big tobacco. We are SWAT.

 

SWAT ACHIEVEMENTS THROUGH THE YEARS

AUGUST 1997 - VICTORY!

Florida won a landmark settlement against the tobacco industry; becoming the second state in the nation to settle a lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

MARCH 1998 - THE START OF SOMETHING BIG

SWAT was created at the Teen Tobacco Summit where 600 middle and high school youth met and created SWAT as a way to take a stand against the tobacco industry.

JUNE 1998 - TRUTH® TAKES EFFECT

The truth® train pulled out of the station on its 10 city tour designed to spread the truth about the tobacco industry to Florida teens. At stops around the state, youth boarded the train to learn about how the tobacco industry uses manipulative tricks to addict them.

JANUARY 1999 - TAKING IT TO THE STREETS

Operation SWAT: SWAT youth along with their county tobacco free partnership members conducted random retail checks to survey the placement of tobacco products and point-of-sale ads. From their findings, they were able to gather evidence needed to support the more than 50 city and county ordinances that would be enacted ordering tobacco products be placed behind the sales counter at stores.

NOVEMBER 1999 - RETURN TO SENDER

SWAT youth end their statewide initiative “Big Tobacco On the Run” with a discussion with Corky Newton, Vice President of Corporate and Youth Responsibility Programs at tobacco company Brown & Williamson (currently Reynolds American Inc.). During the meeting, SWAT challenged B&W to adopt their Guidelines to Reduce Exposure to Tobacco Marketing. “Big Tobacco On The Run” concluded with nearly 9,000 tobacco magazine ads being returned to tobacco companies with stickers displaying, “Rejected, Rebuffed, Returned”.

JANUARY 2000 - PUT UP OR SHUT UP

SWAT challenges Phillip Morris to “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”. Phillip Morris was spending millions on ads to brag about their good deeds. Meanwhile, they were in the same bad business of marketing their deadly products to teens.

SEPTEMBER 2001 - AT A THEATRE NEAR YOU

“SWAT Goes to Hollywood” was a statewide youth initiative designed to raise awareness about the uses of tobacco in movies and about the influence the tobacco industry has on the movie industry.

JUNE 2002 - CHANGING THE LAW

“Out of the Air” was adopted as the SWAT statewide initiative. This campaign raised awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. It was also instrumental in educating Floridians of the benefits of smoke-free environments. In November 2002, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to make workplaces smoke-free.

JUNE 2002 - THE GOLDEN SLEDGE

Escambia County Tobacco Free Partnership wins Partnership of the Year Award. Each year at the annual Teen Tobacco Summit, a county tobacco free partnership was awarded for their tobacco control successes. Congrats to Ron Davis, Ildi Gaspar and SWAT member Thomas Philpot for the leadership and hard work you gave your partnership!

MARCH 2003 - YOUNG DOESN’T MEAN DUMB

SWAT launched their “Underestimated” campaign, which was a grassroots marketing initiative to let the tobacco industry know the youth of Florida won’t just sit back and be manipulated. The industry may be able to spend billions of dollars marketing their product, but they should never underestimate Florida teens.

MARCH 2004 - BIG MONEY, BIGGER LIES

What would you do for $51 billion? That wasn’t the name of a new game show or reality TV. The “51-Billion” campaign was created by SWAT to show their peers around the state the lengths the tobacco industry would go to protect their profits. In just one year, one U.S. tobacco company made $51 billion dollars. What do you think they would do to protect that kind of money?

NOVEMBER 2004 - SPREADING THE MESSAGE

SWAT makes a global impact. SWAT youth and our own Ron Davis, Regional Tobacco Prevention Coordinator covering the Florida Panhandle, were invited to share their expertise on advocacy and tobacco control to a newly formed youth-driven movement in Canada called HCAT.

FEBRUARY 2005 - ROAD TRIP

The Teen Tobacco Summit 8 was unlike any other. Teens jumped on buses for a one-day, nine-city advocacy tour. Between stops, youth learned key tobacco issues and advocacy skills. The tour culminated in the filming of a SWAT recruitment PSA in Orlando.

MAY 2006 - THE POWER OF SWAT

The first Project 1200 was displayed in Miami. Each day, 1,200 Americans die from tobacco. That is why the tobacco industry calls teens “replacement smokers,’ meant to replace the 1,200. Instead, youth from Miami honored the 1,200 by challenging their peers and community members to stand up against the tobacco industry with a moving and educational display.

OCTOBER 2008 - THE POWER OF MANY

With much enthusiasm, SWAT youth held their first organizational meeting in two years. Members from counties all over the state developed their new mission statement, elected a Youth Advocacy Board and re-ignited their desire to create a tobacco-free generation.

FEBRUARY 2009 - SWEET AND DEADLY

Santa Rosa SWAT along with the support of their community encouraged their county commissioners to pass a resolution banning candy-flavored tobacco products. This was the first step toward banning these products and a huge blow to corporate tobacco’s plan to use candy flavors to disguise an addictive and deadly product. Since then, hundreds of similar resolutions have been passed in cities and counties across the state.

JUNE 2012 - SMOKE-FREE DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

SWAT members from 21 different counties worked together to host an event honoring the Daytona International Speedway for its smoke-free grandstand policy. The event included a guest appearance from Jeffrey Earnhardt, a professional NASCAR race car driver.

JULY 2012 - BREAK THROUGH 2012

More than 130 SWAT members from across the state convened in Orlando to sharpen their advocacy skills and advance their work in tobacco control. Youth learned about tobacco issues and how to apply a variety of advocacy skills to leverage support for community change.

DECEMBER 2013 - WE ARE #NotAReplacement

Using the power of social media, SWAT launched the "#NotAReplacement" campaign, which empowered the youth to take "selfie statements" and tell Big Tobacco to stop viewing teens as Replacement Smokers for their dying customers.

JANUARY 2014 - Florida Goes All In

What happens when all 67 Florida counties vote to create a resolution to restrict the marketing and sale of fruit-and- candy-flavored tobacco products? IT PASSES! Way to go, Florida!

MARCH 2014 - Standing Strong with Selfies

SWAT wanted to make sure that tobacco companies knew just how serious teens were about refusing to replace their dying smokers, so they sent 5,106 “selfie statements” directly to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as the #NotAReplacement campaign’s final hurrah to get their point across. The campaign was such a success that it was taken nationwide by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids® and was featured as the worldwide signature activity for the 20th annual Kick Butt’s Day.

 

MEET OUR YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD LEADERS

YAB members are elected by their peers to keep SWAT moving in the right direction. Meet the leaders of tomorrow and get to know a little more about them.

Neelam Patel
"Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infection, and sudden infant death syndrome."
I am involved in my local SWAT chapter because I want to inform as many people as possible about Big Tobacco and how and why tobacco companies target youth. I’ve been a member of SWAT for three years. My favorite SWAT moment was when I had the opportunity to go to a YAB meeting, even though I wasn’t a member of YAB. I learned many leadership skills and was able to utilize them in my county chapter. My favorite superhero is Superman because he would save anyone at any time and could still live a normal life. My hobbies and interests outside of school are Hi-Q and doing schoolwork online.

Region: 1
Contact Me: christopherb@swatflorida.com

Ja’toria Stephens
"When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." — from the movie Finding Nemo
The reason I am in SWAT is because I love to deglamorize Big Tobacco. Big Tobacco is a deceptive market that targets my peers and the ones I love. As a result of the deceptive market, I never had the opportunity to meet my grandmother who passed away from lung cancer. I support the military in many ways; therefore, I will fight against Big Tobacco’s market strategy towards our soldiers. My grandfather, another loved one lost to Big Tobacco, was a Green Beret in the Army. Having fought in the Vietnam and Korean wars, Big Tobacco targeted him and his peers for their masculinity. As a result, the mixture of tobacco chemicals and Agent Orange (a chemical spray) caused cancer in numerous places, leading to his death. The thing I admire most about SWAT is the counteraction of Big Tobacco’s deceptive market. These are the reasons I am fighting against Big Tobacco.

Region: 1
Contact Me: paiges@swatflorida.com

Sachit Gali
"If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." — Isaac Newton.
I am involved in SWAT because I see it as a way to help future generations. I have seen and learned about how tobacco can negatively affect our health, economy, environment, and more. I am passionate about making sure that our generation is the one that ends smoking, and that future generations won’t have to go through the damage that past generations had to go through. I have been a member of SWAT for three years, from 7th grade to now. My favorite SWAT memory is when I had the chance to speak with state lawmakers about tobacco prevention. Not only was it very exciting for me, but it showed me how far SWAT can take me. It was also a great bonding experience for me and all the other SWAT members who spoke with me. Outside of school and SWAT, I love to code and practice martial arts. I am also involved in my school as a class officer and the Model United Nations team. 

Region: 1
Contact Me: amaral@swatflorida.com

Allyssa Williams
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." — Barack Obama
Growing up, tobacco was a normal product used in my family. But as I got older, the effects of tobacco were starting to take effect, and I didn't want to let Big Tobacco win a war I didn't know had started. SWAT was there for me and gave me lots of opportunities and encouraged me to take action. I have been an active member of SWAT for the past three years. Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak to legislators at an open legislation meeting in Tallahassee. The trip was a great opportunity for me to build my character and confidence, and to learn new ways to effectively communicate with my peers and legislators. As my idol Barack Obama once said, "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."  Outside of SWAT, I am the class president for the freshman class at Osceola High School, and an All-American cheerleader in the OHS JV cheer squad and Sportsrock All-Star Elite team. When I'm not participating in these activities, I am spending time with my dogs and family.

Region: 2
Contact Me: abbyb@swatflorida.com

Nicole Jimenez
"Take action to see reward. Do nothing and be ignored."
The first time I saw SWAT was on the news, where they described what they did and what further actions they were hoping to take. I decided right then and there to join SWAT. Every volunteer job was a step closer to the goal. All the educational advice I had received and was given was an eye opener. I shared this information with friends and family who are in the process of reaching their own success. I've met a lot of great people through the short five years that I've been involved. I'm 17 and chapter president for Seminole County, Region 3. This is my first year in YAB, but hopefully not my last, for I feel that I have much to gain and much to offer. I hope people never stop taking action to obtain their individual goals, and help us reach our overall goal. 

Region: 2
Contact Me: ashleyp@swatflorida.com

Lily Anderson
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." — Walt Disney
I have been in SWAT for a little over four years. I became involved because I have seen firsthand the dangerous effects of tobacco products. Some of my favorite SWAT moments would include preparing for our county's Color Run and speaking to the school board as well as my peers about our message.

Region: 2
Contact Me: danielt@swatflorida.com

Tyra Langley
"If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password, Roll Tide Roll!" — Bear Bryant
I am 100% against tobacco. My brother was in SWAT and I wanted to follow his lead. I feel passionate about the fight against Big Tobacco. I want to have the chance to let everyone know about tobacco and its harmful effects – especially my friends who are like family. I have been a member of SWAT for three years, since 6th grade. Every year during the homecoming parade the high school SWAT Club makes posters and floats with tobacco-related messages. They always invite the middle school SWAT to join them, and we get to ride on the float. In 5th grade, SWAT members came to my school and they had a truth poster contest. I got first place. I love being involved with SWAT at school events such as volleyball, basketball, and football games. I have had amazing experiences attending the last three SWAT retreats. Getting to know other SWAT members from around our region is so much fun!

Region: 2
Contact Me: jordanm@swatflorida.com

Phillipe Joseph

Since my first SWAT meeting in 8th grade, I’ve realized why I joined. It’s because I feel as if SWAT can be beneficial to public health by reducing the number of people killed by tobacco products every year as well as have a positive effect on the environment. By having smokers quit, the environment will be a lot cleaner. My first SWAT event was at a beach cleanup. During that cleanup, I saw how much the environment is affected by tobacco products. Being on the YAB shows others and me what we, as part of the SWAT and YAB group, are really about by showing what we are really fighting for. I joined YAB to build up my local SWAT chapter, get others to see how serious the club is, and to get more members.

Region: 3
Contact Me: victoriag@swatflorida.com

Maddie Chabab
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." – Hebrews 11:1
I have been a member of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) for two years, and currently serve as the vice president of my county chapter. My involvement in SWAT is motivated by the fact that it utilizes proactive youth who are passionate about ending the terror of big tobacco companies. It establishes policies of health and wellness that will have lasting effects for years to come. I love facilitating ideas and taking part in resolutions that will benefit our society. One policy in particular that I would like to focus on in the coming year is secondhand smoke, especially its effects in multiple housing units such as apartment buildings. These past years in SWAT have allowed me to interact with so many amazing people, all working toward a healthier world free of tobacco. In my personal life, I love spending time with family and friends. I’m an active member of my church and enjoy playing volleyball. I am so proud to be on your SWAT Youth Advocacy Board!

Region: 3
Contact Me: Mykenzier@swatflorida.com

Sebastian Suarez

I serve as the president of my school SWAT chapter, where I lead and aid my fellow members to reach their fullest potential and succeed in all their projects. In addition to being the president of my chapter, I am also an active participant in all chapter activities, which include events, projects, expositions, showcases, and movements. My favorite tobacco control observance is the Great American Smokeout, as it is an observance that recognizes not only people who realize the dangers of tobacco, but also the smokers themselves who attempt to quit. This observance encourages smokers to quit, even if only for a day, in order to highlight the health benefits of cessation. It also allows for smokers and non-smokers to work together for a cause that benefits everyone, as it reduces both firsthand and secondhand smoke. I encourage my fellow members to work to their maximum potential and inspire teamwork. Not only have I served in the Youth Advocacy Board (YAB), I have also served in Region 4’s Leadership Council, and am also currently the president of the St. Lucie County SWAT chapter. Serving on the YAB provides me with the opportunity to make a difference for not only my region, but for all of SWAT and the people in the state of Florida.

Region: 4
Contact Me: britaniac@swatflorida.com

Amber Reneau
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ― Helen Keller
I joined SWAT because I wanted to be a part of the powerful movement that we represent. I believe that if America’s youth all stand together, we can create a chain reaction and help stop the use of tobacco products all over the world. This is my first year as a member, and I’m really glad I joined this amazing organization because the people that we work with are so helpful — they make you feel like family as soon as you join the organization. My favorite SWAT moment would definitely be this year at the Christmas Festival, when we walked around getting as many adults and teens to sign the smokeless tobacco pledge cards with the middle school SWATters. This was a great opportunity to see the younger generation’s views on tobacco as well as for them to see the older generation's views, all at once. My favorite superhero is Captain America because he stands for justice and defends the weak. Much how our movement may represent a small percentage of those campaigning against tobacco, but as we come together, we are stronger. My favorite hobbies are helping out my friends and family by tutoring them after school and singing in my church choir; my favorite song is “How Great is Our God.”

Region: 4
Contact Me: nicolass@swatflorida.com

Emma Buscemi

I’m a 12-year-old student at Explorer K-8 in Hernando County. I have served as the president of our SWAT program for three years. It is an honor to be the first student in Hernando County to be voted on to the Youth Advocacy Board (YAB) for SWAT. I look forward to working with all the YAB members to bring more awareness to the SWAT initiative, and share what I learn with the students of Hernando County.

Contact Me:

Andreas Bergmann
"Kid, you'll move mountains! … Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so ... get on your way!" – Dr. Seuss
I am involved in SWAT because I am very passionate when it comes to working towards a tobacco free future. I absolutely admire the fact that everyone is so close and that it produces a family environment. I also don't want my peers to fall right into Big Tobacco's lies and get hooked on something so deadly. I have been a member of SWAT for three years now. One of my favorite "SWAT moments" would be last year's regional retreat. I loved getting on stage and being able to communicate with my peers! I have also starred in two SWAT videos that are shared throughout the state of Florida. It was a great experience!

Contact Me:

Abby Bayacal
"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." – Francis of Assisi
I am involved in SWAT because it has a good mission, and it gives students the opportunity to do things they never thought they could do. Working with SWAT is such a great way to serve my community for a reason I'm passionate about, and I'm so happy that I get to work with the group in the way I do. I have been a member of SWAT for about five years. I joined my county chapter when I was in sixth grade. My friend's mother was one of our advisors from the health department, and she invited me to a meeting. I've been involved ever since. One of the events that sticks out most in my memory is the statewide meeting that was held in the summer of 2012. It was so much fun to be able to meet SWAT members from around the state and talk to them, not just about what they were doing in SWAT, but also what they were doing outside of SWAT, all while we were learning more about Big Tobacco and what we could do to fight it. The meeting was a great way to see that SWAT wasn't just in one place; it was all over Florida, and all of its members were working towards the same goal, even if it didn't feel like it when we were back in our own counties. The meeting was very informative, and I met so many wonderful people.

Contact Me:

 

SWAT is made possible with the support of Tobacco Free Florida and the Florida Department of Health.