Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Members Celebrate Not a Lab Rat Day!
October 21, 2020

The newest annual anti-tobacco observance Not A Lab Rat was held on October 21st and several schools in Marion County celebrated by creating public service announcements that were aired during the morning school news shows. Not A Lab Rat is a campaign that encourages youth to recognize the marketing tactics that are used by the tobacco industry to entice youth into experimenting with tobacco and electronic nicotine products. Here’s a sample of one of the PSA’s that was created:

“It is important for young people to know that Big Tobacco is up to their old tricks again...this time it’s with vape devices and e-cigarettes. E-cigarette liquid contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, and lots of other chemicals, that can have disastrous effects on your brain and your body. The tobacco industry is trying to downplay those effects, just like they did with cigarettes 60 years ago. Remember - candy flavored nicotine products are designed specifically to attract Big Tobacco's youngest customers - YOU!”

Marion County SWAT Clubs were invited to participate in the annual Horse-O-Ween event at the Ocala Downtown Market. This event is focused on youth engagement in the equine community and has a strong emphasis on proper horse care, which includes providing healthy living spaces. The SWAT Coordinator and two SWAT youth decorated a table with a mad scientist theme, interactive displays and of course candy! Over 100 youth stopped at the SWAT table to test their tobacco knowledge and learn new facts. A Halloween event would not be complete without a costume and Marion County SWAT did not disappoint! Cody Blaire, with Sea Cadets SWAT Club, was a good sport and agreed to wear the Smoky suit and we are so glad he did!

  The Region 2 Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Summit was a virtual training event held on November 7th and two youth from the Sea Cadets SWAT Club attended. This years’ summit focused on tobacco use and the COVID-19 infection and was created by the Region 2 SWAT Youth Advisory Board and included icebreakers and several “energizers” throughout the presentation that made it more fun and kept them engaged. The youth learned how using tobacco or nicotine products lowers your immune system and may increase your risk of contracting the virus and can affect how severe your symptoms are. They were encouraged to utilize the video advocacy skills acquired at previous trainings to stay engaged with their community while maintaining social distancing. These bi-yearly training events are so important to keep youth up-to-date on their advocacy skills and to keep them encouraged to keep saying no to tobacco and nicotine products!    

Many of the annual community events that are typically held this time of year have been cancelled or postponed. Marion County SWAT Clubs have continued to remain active and engaged with their communities, using creative and innovative methods, despite the safety restrictions put in place due to COVID-19. We are so proud of our SWAT youth!

If you would like more information on the Tobacco Prevention Program, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), or the QuitDoc Foundation, please contact the Marion County SWAT coordinator Tammy Slaughter at 352.209.9628 or TSlaughter@QuitDoc.com.