News and Events

Gilchrist County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Continues to Grow!
September 15, 2023

The beginning of the 2023-24 school year has begun in Gilchrist County and with the slight hiccup of Hurricane Idalia closing school’s county wide for a week it has been a successful start to a new year. While students got into the swing with their new classes and schedules both Trenton Middle-High School and Bell Middle-High School held club days hoping to rally students into joining fun meaningful extracurriculars. With a multitude of great choices for everyone one club in particular stands out in the wake of the current youth vaping epidemic sweeping our nation, our Gilchrist County SWAT Club.

For those who do not know SWAT stands for Students Working Against Tobacco, it is an initiative started by Tobacco Free Florida and the Florida Department of Health in 1998 giving a platform for our Florida students to act against big tobacco companies. Florida SWAT clubs discuss the marketing schemes big tobacco uses to lure in new users, allows them to educate their fellow peers, and grants students the ability to reach local decision makers in hopes to influence the adoption of new laws to combat tobacco sales and use in the future. Over the last 25 years Florida SWAT has grown into over more than 300 clubs with more than 4,300 students actively participating in the fight annually.

Even for a small county Gilchrist has seen a substantial growth in the past 5 years in youth involvement in our local clubs. Adding a new club to Trenton Middle-High School this year to accommodate the number of students who want to help change the story of tobacco use within their generation. With this new club Gilchrist County has a total of 4 clubs, 2 Middle School Clubs and 2 High School Clubs both at Trenton and Bell with almost 200 student’s county wide.

With this kind of support from our local students we have many activities planned to help get the message out of the dangers of tobacco use throughout the year. We plan to allow our young local leaders to speak at public meetings, participate in red ribbon week, and even set up booths at local community events to allow them to get out into the public and spread the message. We hope to give our next generation the tools and materials they need to make the change to improve our community’s future health and allow them to start shaping how they want Gilchrist County to look in the upcoming years. They may even be the generation to stop the hold big tobacco has had on this country over the last 50 years.