News and Events

Let's Be Through With Chew!
February 13, 2018

Sebastian River Middle School’s SWAT Club is pledging to be the generation that ends tobacco! In February they received a proclamation from Indian River County Commissioners for Through with Chew Week. Because smokeless has long been identified with baseball players, students asked commissioners to ban ALL tobacco, smoking, vaping and chewing, from parks and playing fields. Students spoke about needing to breathe air without second hand smoke, litter caused by cigarette butts, cancer from chewing tobacco, and the powerful drug nicotine that is extremely addictive.

Indian River Students Working Against Tobacco Recieve a Through With Chew Week Proclamation from the Indian River County Commissioners.

Everyone knows smoking is bad for health, but smokeless products with appealing flavors are actually starter products for adolescents and youth. At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have an 80% higher risk of oral cancer and a 60 percent higher risk of esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer compared to non-users.  67% of youth who try tobacco by sixth grade become addicted to nicotine and become regular users.* Pro athlete and celebrity endorsements of smokeless tobacco products inspire youth initiation. Because smokeless can contain more nicotine than cigarettes, it is highly addictive. Unfortunately, it is also easier to conceal. Indian River’s high school smokeless use rate climbed from 5.9% in 2014 to 6.10% in 2016. While the state rate dropped to 3.7% in 2016, Indian River’s rate of 6.10% is now nearly twice the State average!

SWAT gathered signatures from classmates that are in the fight with them to end tobacco use. Pictured (L) to (R): Anna Woods, Genevieve Presti, Ralissa Feldborg, Hannah Shelhammer, Kara Feldborg, Kayla Hershberger.

Adult coaches, referees and parents are role models for youth in sports. In their positions of authority, they can have either a positive or negative influence on youth under their supervision.  We can protect our youth from ever starting to use tobacco by creating tobacco free social norms. Students encouraged County Commissioners to adopt a tobacco free policy for sport and recreation facilities.

*Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Preventing Nicotine Addiction in Children and Youths; Lynch BS, Bonnie RJ, editors. Growing up Tobacco Free: Preventing Nicotine Addiction in Children and Youths. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1994. 2, THE NATURE OF NICOTINE ADDICTION. Available from: