Marion County SWAT Clubs Gear Up for Take Down Tobacco Day!
March 23, 2021

Take Down Tobacco Day is a fresh take on the annual observance formerly known as Kick Butts Day, which is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up, and seize control against Big Tobacco. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids changed the name of this observance in March of 2020 but due to the lockdown restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the name change was widely missed. This year’s Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action will be held on April 1, 2021 and marks the 26th anniversary of the event.

Over the past quarter century, the U.S. has made remarkable progress in doing just what the Kick Butts Day name describes: kicking butts. Despite the hard work put into drastically reducing the youth smoking (combustible tobacco products) rate to an all-time low, the unprecedented rate at which young people are using e-cigarette (vaping) products, the progress that had been made towards eradicating youth nicotine use, has been reversed.  Combine that with the wide variety of nicotine products that continue to be introduced and marketed to youth, Take Down Tobacco Day is a reflection of both how far we've come and how far we still need to go to achieve the first tobacco-free generation.

Shout out to the following Marion County SWAT Clubs who have already participated in a Take Down Tobacco Day activity! The Ocala Naval Sea Cadets SWAT Club hosted a Sea Perch Remote Operated Vehicle training camp during spring break and took the opportunity to commemorate the anti-tobacco observance during their free time.

The cadet leadership of the training lead a discussion about the marketing tactics used by the tobacco and vaping industry to target their products towards youth and the purpose of Take Down Tobacco Day of Action. They encouraged each cadet to find their reason to stay nicotine-free.

Some of the youth reported feeling outraged about the deceptive marketing practices and were empowered by their choices based on what they had learned! Vanguard High School SWAT Club had several club meetings to design posters to be displayed in the halls and common areas and wrote a PSA for their school morning show. Meadowbrook Academy Middle School SWAT Club hosted an online activity using the National Drug Facts Week hashtag #ShatterTheMyths to share a message about the dangers of vaping and drug use. We are so proud of our Marion County SWAT Clubs and every single member for their continued engagement and dedication to the SWAT Club message!

There have been many important victories in the fight against Big Tobacco since the first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996. Just as the tobacco industry has evolved and expanded to stay relevant and appealing to young people, so must the prevention programs and messaging. In just twenty short years, the prevention funding that comes from the epic Tobacco Master Settlement of 1998 has been able to effect meaningful changes in the way our society views tobacco and nicotine. For the first time in the history of tobacco, we have an entire generation that has grown up believing in the harmful effects of tobacco use. Prevention efforts must shift to focus on electronic nicotine delivery systems and synthetic nicotine compounds.

For more information and to participate in the Roast of Big Tobacco on April 1st, visit www.TakeDownTobacco.org.  Information on the Tobacco Master Settlement of 1998, can be found at www.TruthInitiative.org

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: 352.209.9628 TSlaughter@QuitDoc.com