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.

JUNE 2017 - Tobacco Free State of Mind

Tobacco Free Florida held a statewide SWAT meeting with more than 120 youth and 70 adults representing each county in Florida. The meeting opened with a powerful message from DOH Deputy Secretary, Dr. Kelli Wells, and Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief, Dr. Kellie O’ Dare. The teens discovered the rich history Florida has in tobacco control, and developed the skills needed to make their communities tobacco free.

NOVEMBER 2017 - Moment of truth

In November of 2017, SWAT celebrated the release of “corrective statements” from U.S. tobacco corporations. These court-ordered commercials and newspaper articles reveal the real dangers and health risks associated with tobacco products that Big Tobacco previously denied and lied about. SWAT members can now use this victory to empower the youth and continue the fight to make a difference – with the truth on our side!

 

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.

Catalina Rios
"Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have been involved in Santa Rosa County's Students Working Against Tobacco program for almost 5 years.  I am currently county chair for Santa Rosa. I am very passionate when it comes to Tobacco Prevention among youth.  I have learned so much about my community and the State of Florida. I am proud to say that I am a part of this fight against tobacco and will always be fighting.  I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I found it here.  Our youth fight to deglamorize big tobacco and save the community. 

Region: 1
Contact Me: Mykenzier@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

Amanda Bouquet
"Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting." ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Hi! My name is Amanda Bouquet. I am currently in my junior year of high school and a part of Region 4. I have been in SWAT for a year now, and this is my first time on the YAB. I was born in Brazil and can speak three languages. I love to watch movies and go to sporting events. I spend a lot of my time volunteering and giving back to my community. I am extremely excited to be a part of the YAB this term!

Region: 4
Contact Me: jordanm@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

Destiny Cole
"Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.” - Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Hi, my name is Destiny Cole. I am currently a high school senior at Flagler Palm Coast High School and a college freshman at Daytona State College. I joined SWAT in my freshman year because it sounded like we would be doing secret government stuff. Turns out, it wasn't the secret spy kind of SWAT, but one that has made a huge impact in my life. I really want to push the message that tobacco is one of the worst killers in the world and how people should stop using it. 

Region: 2
Contact Me: nicolass@swatflorida.com

Drew Latta
"If you can't explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough." – Albert Einstein
I am a part of SWAT because I want to help eliminate the use of tobacco-related products. Although cigarette smoking has declined, it is far from eliminated, and electronic nicotine delivery systems are increasing in prominence at a rapid rate, especially in youth. I have seen my peers and even friends use these, which sparked my initial interest in SWAT. My hobbies are woodworking, surfing and diving, and I am in Model United Nations and Debate at my school.

Region: 4
Contact Me: christopherb@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: 3
Contact Me: abbyb@swatflorida.com

Kendra O’Malley
"Stay golden pony boy, stay golden."- The Outsiders
This is my third year in SWAT. I am the president of my SWAT chapter. I joined SWAT to make people aware of Big Tobacco companies and how they are being targeted.

Region: 1
Contact Me: paiges@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: 3
Contact Me: ashleyp@swatflorida.com

Amaya Figueroa
"Don't explain your philosophy; embody it" – Author unknown.
I hope through hard work and dedication, all of SWAT can work together to defeat the deconstructive effects of the Tobacco Industry.

Region: 2
Contact Me: amaral@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: 1
Contact Me: danielt@swatflorida.com

Emma Ronchetti
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." – Gandhi
I have been in SWAT since 6th grade. It started with my teacher telling me she wanted me in the club and slowly, but surely, I got very involved. I hated public speaking, but my school SWAT advisor and my regional advisor, Ms. Kristina, helped me work through this fear. So, in 7th grade, I talked to my city council about passing a resolution to place tobacco products behind the counter, and they passed it. I was really proud after that moment, and I kept working in SWAT. I finally worked up my courage to run for YAB, which I got. I'm very proud to be a part of this amazing organization.

Region: 2
Contact Me: abbyb@swatflorida.com

Laycee Hallman
"Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody." – Kid President
I am a senior at Williston Middle High, I have been in SWAT since I was in 6th grade, and have been president for almost 3 years. I first became involved with SWAT because I saw how tobacco was affecting my friends and family, and I thought the only way I could help was to join and get the word out. 

Region: 2
Contact Me: ashleyp@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: 4
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

Emma Buscemi

I'm 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.

Region: 3
Contact Me:

 

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