News and Events

SWAT and the Tobacco Free Partnership Step Up During Through With Chew Week
February 16, 2016

VERO BEACH, Fla. –“The more nervous I am, the more my confidence builds and I know I’ll be O.K.” said Maaike’ VanLis.

During Through with Chew Week 2016, Maaike’, a teen SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) student, stepped up to the microphone to inform Vero Beach City Council members and Indian River County Commissioners what chewing tobacco can do to one’s health.

Members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian receive a Through With Chew Week Proclamation from the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners.

VanLis, a senior at Vero Beach High School, plans to enter college in the fall and take pre-med classes. Because knowing the first signs of cancer can help get people into treatment early, she displayed a photo of Leukoplakia, white patches in the mouth which can indicate that cancerous cells are forming.

Although cigarette use has dropped dramatically in the past decade, Council members, the public, and Commissioners learned the use of chewing tobacco has not decreased at the same rate.

Marie Blanchard, a Tobacco Free Partnership member and SWAT Advisor, informed City of Sebastian Council members and viewers that an average of 4.9% of youth across Florida use smokeless tobacco and in Indian River County, the rate is higher at 5.9%.

In support of smokeless tobacco control, these local Tobacco Free Partnership and Students Working Agains Tobacco (SWAT) members encouraged the City Councils of Sebastian, Vero Beach and Indian River County County’s Commissioners to proclaim February 14-20 as Through with Chew Week.

Tobaco Free Partnership Member,
Marie Blanchard

The proclamations are important tools that provide facts to elected officials and the community about youth use of smokeless tobacco locally and in Florida. “If we indeed want to decrease youth access to tobacco”, said Leslie Spurlock, QuitDoc Foundation’s Community Health Advocate in Indian River County, “elected officials and the public must be well-informed about the impact exposure to tobacco use has on local youth initiation”.

In the future, policies that encourage tobacco free play environments for youth sports leagues and recreation programs, will decrease exposure to secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco. Although the tobacco industry continues targeting youth with products that encourage experimenting with tobacco, Partners, communities, and elected officials in Indian River County are working together limiting youth exposure to tobacco products.

For more information, contact Leslie Spurlock, Community Health Advocate at 772-577-3701 or