News and Events

A Busy Month Draws to a Close for Gilchrist County SWAT
March 20, 2013

March has been a busy month for Gilchrist County SWAT. 

At the beginning of the month, SWAT youth participated in a regional training event that brought youth together from North East Florida to discuss the issue of candy flavored tobacco.  The regional event was held to help SWAT youth prepare for Kick Butts Day events around the state.  Kick Butts Day is a national observance held by youth around the entire country to bring focus in their local communities about the ways tobacco companies intentionally target young people through adding candy flavoring to products, creating products that mimic candy, and through point-of-purchase advertising. 

Gilchrist County SWAT held their Kick Butts Day observance at the Suwannee River Youth fair this year to reach a large number of youth and parents.  SWAT youth set up an information booth discussing the issue of candy flavored tobacco, letting other youth know that the candy flavoring in tobacco products is actually masking some nasty chemicals.  It was a great opportunity to educate adults as many parents were unaware of the candy flavored products offered for sale in the community.  SWAT youth were also able to give 30 second informational speeches between classes at a livestock show which enabled them to reach over 200 community members with a tobacco-free message.

Youth Fair
Gilchrist County SWAT share their insights at the annual Suwannee River Youth Fair

A group of Gilchrist County SWAT members also traveled to Tallahassee in March to meet with Representative Keith Perry.  Several SWAT youth had previously participated in the Legislative Delegation meeting held in December 2012, and were able to meet Representative Perry and introduce him to SWAT activities in Gilchrist County at that time.  During the visit to Tallahassee, SWAT youth brought tobacco use statistics for Gilchrist County youth from the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey and discussed the way candy flavored tobacco influences youth in their community.  SWAT youth and Representative Perry discussed tobacco marketing techniques, such as adding candy flavoring to products, which may encourage young people to try a tobacco product for the first time with the intention to create a new generation of lifelong tobacco customers.  The youth were encouraged by Representative Perry’s support of their work in the community, and his knowledge of the issues they brought before him as well.

Rep Perry
Gilchrist County SWAT Member Tucker McDaniel meets with Representative Kieth Perry

The youth involved in Gilchrist County SWAT clubs are actively trying to make Gilchrist County and the State of Florida a better place by encouraging their peers and adults to adopt a tobacco-free lifestyle.  They continue to be actively engaged in their local community, as well as reaching out to decision makers who may have a larger impact on their region and the state.