SWAT gives Florida youth the tools they need to help reduce the tobacco industry’s influence and advocate for change


Cyluas Bausby

The need for youth to speak up and make their voices heard about the issues they care  about is as important as ever, which is why one student-led organization in Florida is  leading the way in the fight against the tobacco industry and the addictive products that  target youth. 

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is a statewide youth organization focused  on educating, empowering, and mobilizing Florida youth to revolt against and de glamorize Big Tobacco. 

As a member of the Holmes SWAT chapter, I believe SWAT is  an important cause that more youth should get involved in. SWAT was founded in 1998  by youth to combat the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing to youth. 

Smoking can cause all sorts of diseases like cancer and asthma. Secondhand smoke hurts others nearby who breathe it in. Smoking is safe for no one. 

Despite significant progress over the years, tobacco and e-cigarette use is still  prevalent, and the tobacco industry’s antics must be stopped. SWAT is working to change the social norms associated with tobacco, including e-cigarettes. 

SWAT has been educating and empowering youth and communities since 1998. SWAT  has had several successful initiatives throughout the years. ‘Not a Replacement’ was a  statewide campaign where thousands of youth reminded tobacco companies that they  

are unique individuals with the potential to make a positive impact on their community.  ‘Not a Lab Rat’ is the current statewide campaign that focuses on the truth behind e-cigarettes and how youth can stop the spread of misinformation. Through such  initiatives, SWAT continues to work toward changing the way people think about  tobacco, making it less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible. 

My reason for joining SWAT was clear. The reason I joined SWAT was because I have  asthma, and I wanted to put a stop to smoking. That’s because smoking can kill you, and it’s killed a lot of my family. 

I want to put a stop to the tobacco industry. 

Joining SWAT helped me know what I’m up against and I’m ready to stand and fight  against big tobacco. It also has helped me be a better listener, leader, and planner, so I  really appreciate SWAT. 

In our community, the Holmes County SWAT chapter helped make a difference by  advocating for tobacco-free areas. Tobacco-free areas include schools, football fields,  and parks. We also volunteer in the community. 

For example, our club participates in  International Coastal Cleanup Day, where we clean up litter from the beach including tobacco litter. We also go to festivals like the Collard Festival to educate people on the truth about tobacco use and how tobacco markets to teens. 

There is still work to be done to protect our generation and future generations from the  tobacco industry. By working with peers, students can create change that will keep  tobacco products out of Holmes County and improve the health of our family, friends,  and community. 

SWAT is open to all Florida youth in 6th-12th grade. There is a SWAT chapter in every county in Florida, and some counties also have clubs in schools and  community organizations. 

In Holmes, we have SWAT Chapters in Ponce de Leon High School, Holmes County High School, and Poplar Springs School. Holmes County also  has a county-wide SWAT chapter. 

If you are interested in learning more about SWAT and how youth can get involved,  contact Kassidy Raley, SWAT Coordinator, or visit 

I hope that in writing this, more youth are inspired to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry by joining SWAT.

Cyluas Bausby is a Holmes County High School student and Students Working Against Tobacco Youth Advocacy board member.

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