News and Events

A Big Win in a Small Town for Students Working Against Tobacco
By Lauren Walter, Marion County SWAT Coordinator
November 13, 2014

The Town of McIntosh held its monthly city council meeting on November 13th where they opened the floor to three young guest speakers.

Donnay Alston, Donovan Smith, both from Osceola Middle and Jayda McCosker from Fort King Middle were invited to address the council regarding a young person’s perspective on flavored tobacco. The youth brought with them examples of just how dangerous these products can be. For example, mints that are presented comparably to and easily confused with tobacco orbs, likewise, beef jerky in orange packaging with peach flavored snuff.  Jayda, eleven years old, had seen young people practice this addicting habit before and explained to the members of the community who were present in the meeting, “even though it’s jerky, kids will put it in their lip just like it is real tobacco.” The council was surprised by the resemblances, yet encouraged by the youth so much as to make a change in their town.

McIntosh Town Council

The 2012 Surgeon General Report states that tobacco products are being intentionally designed to become more aesthetically and flavorfully pleasing than ever before. It is documented on that a tobacco executive has even made the suggestion, "Many people felt that younger chewers would be attracted to products with less tobacco taste. For example, it was suggested that we investigate the possibility of borrowing study data from the company which produces "Life Savers" as a basis for determining which flavors enjoy the widest appeal."

On our ride to the council meeting we made a pit stop at a local Dollar General. Manette Cheshareck, Community Health Advocate and a Marion County Tobacco Prevention Specialist, recognized and mentioned to the SWAT members to take notice of all the colorful tobacco packaging, which was not behind a register, and how it was organized lower as to be more visible to those “shorter” customers...

Facts like these are changing minds in the most important places, like town council meetings, and among our community’s youth.

McIntosh Town Council

The vote for a resolution was now in order. All members said aye in the matter of urging local retailers to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products to youth by keeping them behind the register instead of out beside the colorful lookalike mints and candy. Thank you To the Town of McIntosh and to our SWAT members Donnay, Donovan, and Jayda! Congratulations on your success for a healthier future!

For more information on the Marion County SWAT Program, contact Lauren Walter at