Youth speak out against tobacco

Students Working Against Tobacco gives youth the tools they need to help reduce the tobacco industry’s influence and advocate for change

SWAT President

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 Wakulla County SWAT chapter, I believe SWAT is an important cause more youth should get involved in. SWAT can help youth, or even adults, stop tobacco use by explaining the cons of tobacco use, SWAT can teach youth about how tobacco is bad, and allows youth to share personal experiences without shame, overall, SWAT is a great program for those looking to help prevent other youth from tobacco use. 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. I joined SWAT because I wanted to educate my family who uses tobacco about the health issues it can cause. My second year, I wanted to continue educating myself and others about what tobacco can do to you and your friends. Joining SWAT helped me by finding the courage to ask my family and friends to stop vaping, without just saying, “It’s bad for you.” I was, instead, able to provide information to them about how tobacco is bad for them, and how it can seriously affect their future.
In our community, the Wakulla County SWAT chapter helped make a difference by spreading our program around the county to educate and encourage others to help prevent tobacco use.
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 Wakulla 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 Wakulla County, we have three current locations, Wakulla High, Wakulla Middle, and Riversprings Middle School.
If you are interested in learning more about SWAT and how youth can get involved, contact Kandra Saracinaj,, (850)888-6108, 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.