SWAT In Action:
Regional Tobacco Prevention Coordinators
Organizational Structure (Adobe pdf file)
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1.1 The mission of SWAT is to educate, unite and empower the diverse
segments of youth in Florida to revolt against the manipulation
and targeting by Big Tobacco, specifically of youth, through the
use of the truth message.
1.2 SWAT will represent youth to government, community, and businesses
in promoting its ideals and achieving its goals. SWAT will
empower young people through education, media, marketing, activism,
involvement, enforcement, evaluation and working with the truth
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The purpose of SWAT is to provide a means by which the young people
of Florida may develop a coordinated, unified assault against the
manipulation of Big Tobacco. SWAT will also provide young people
with the chance to be advocates and to get involved within their
state, regions and communities. SWAT will allow youth to gain
“real-life” experiences through planning, executing,
and evaluating tobacco prevention activities. SWAT will also
attempt to provide meaningful workshops and training sessions that
will allow youth to be more effective in any endeavor that they
choose to undertake.
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SWAT's message consists solely of educating and empowering youth
to resist the deceitful marketing and manipulation of the tobacco
industry. SWAT DOES NOT deal with the dangers, harms, or health
effects on youth. They receive this message through schools. Smokers
are accepted in SWAT because they too are victims of tobacco's money
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SWAT’s message is not about health.
SWAT’s message is about Big Tobacco marketing practices and
exposing the manipulation of the tobacco industry.
SWAT’s does not tell anyone how to live their lives –
you have enough people doing that already. The message is not about
telling youth - “don’t smoke.”
Instead, SWAT works to generate awareness about what Big Tobacco
does to get a share of the youth market..
There is one enemy, Big Tobacco.
SWAT does not talk down to or “preach” to anyone, including
Smokers are allowed to join SWAT because they are victims of the
tobacco industry’s manipulative advertising.
We are a generation UNITED against Big Tobacco.
TRUTH is the message and SWAT is the messenger.
SWAT is the organization that complements the TRUTH Campaign (the
commercials on television with which many people are familiar).
Students between the ages of 12 and 18 can SWAT join to support
the TRUTH Campaign.
SWAT is a youth advocacy group that promotes leadership and community
involvement. SWAT uses these avenues among teens to create awareness
Their brand is lies. Our brand is TRUTH.
Exposing the lies and manipulation of Big Tobacco.
TRUTH is KNOWLEDGE is POWER.
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The Florida Tobacco Pilot Program resulted from Florida’s
landmark lawsuit with the tobacco industry settled on August 25,
1997. The vision of the late Governor Lawton Chiles and the goal
of the program were to reduce tobacco use among youth. The program
began its two-year Pilot Program in February 1998. Among the several
components of the program is the youth-led organization SWAT - Students
Working Against Tobacco, an advocacy organization available to all
Florida middle and high school students, dedicated to empowering
youth to live tobacco free and to become advocates for living tobacco-free.
SWAT members carry the message to live tobacco-free, which includes
those messages branded as the “Truth” campaign. This
campaign reveals Big Tobacco’s advertising efforts to lure
teens to smoke and the deadly facts about smoking and using other
tobacco products. Students work together at the local level and
also as a statewide group. Each of the state’s 67 counties
has a youth representative on SWAT’s board of directors, which
meets quarterly to plan, organize and evaluate strategies. Eleven
members also serve as SWAT’s executive committee, and all
members are invited to annual teen summits that unite the youth
to celebrate successes and chart their next course. There are currently
thousands of members in this youth movement.
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- 32 city ordinances and 27 county ordinances have been adopted
that place tobacco products behind the counter and out of the
hands of youth. Bay County’s attempt to pass an ordinance
was challenged by Lorillard Tobacco Company. Threatened with legal
action, SWAT held its ground and won.
- SWAT’s membership has grown to thousands of youth across
the state of Florida.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is including examples of
youth-empowered tobacco control interventions from SWAT in a guide
for youth tobacco control that is being published for international
- SWAT members visited Indiana, Minnesota, and Canada to spread
their message and to help other tobacco control programs continue
- Facing difficult budget cuts and the cancellation of the statewide
tour, SWAT members and staff pulled together to continue the efforts
through a grassroots campaign. Activities were planned and carried
out in just over a week across the state, reaching thousands of
youth from every county.
- SWAT’s “Out of the Air” campaign educated
Florida’s citizens regarding second-hand smoke and the industry’s
attempts to discredit statistics that demonstrate its harmfulness.
Their efforts helped support the passing of Amendment 6 to limit
smoking in public places.
- SWAT members have gone on to build their own companies like
Revolution and the Delta Project, turning the lessons they’ve
learned here into a marketable business. Members have joined national
organizations such as the American Legacy Foundation and Campaign
for Tobacco-Free Kids.
- "Underestimated," the SWAT movement’s first
underground marketing campaign was created and carried out by
the youth. Piquing the interest of youth everywhere by posting
the word “underestimated,” SWAT successfully spread
its message and recruited new members. Don’t “underestimate"
the power of the youth.
- SWAT members have earned the respect of adults and youth in
Florida and across the nation. Their input has been requested
in the development of drug control strategies, health information
publications, and more.
- SWAT held its first ever Cultural Diversity and Recruitment
Training, reaching over 350 youth with new information about the
specific targeting of ethnic groups by the tobacco industry.
- The SWAT Board of Directors and Executive Committee has worked
with DHAT components to develop innovative curricula, ad campaigns,
and initiatives to reach youth.
- SWAT’s voice is heard in community partnerships across
the state, with youth taking on leadership positions and serving
as decision-makers for tobacco control in their county.
- Because of program efforts there have been dramatic decreases
in students who smoke—an amazing 57% decline in smoking
among middle school students and a 37% decline among high school
- Declines have also been reported in the number of both middle
and high school daily smokers. The number of middle school daily
smokers has decreased by 63% and high school decreased by 45%.
- The program has also affected middle and high school youth
who classify themselves as “committed never smokers,”
even if their best friend offered them one. 56% of middle school
and 43% of high school youth are committed to never smoke. That
is a 73% increase among high school youth, since the beginning
of the program. I guess they won’t to be manipulated by
- SWAT members have become an important part of the political
process, educating key decision-makers on the necessity of tobacco
prevention, lives and dollars saved.
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