News and Events

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) & The Tobacco Free Partnership: Making a Difference Together
April 1, 2019

Members of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Indian River County and SWAT (Student Working Against Tobacco) continuously seek ways to make a difference in our community. Youth may want a cleaner environment that saves birds and animals. Adults may want to eliminate health hazards of secondhand smoke or aerosols. When they work together the outcomes can be amazing!

Partnership members and SWAT youth are provided collective opportunities to share their knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco use with State Legislators, County Commissioners, and City Councils. They use tobacco observances like World No Tobacco Day, Through with Chew Week, Kick Butts Day, Great American Smoke Out, and Tobacco Free Florida Week to educate decision makers and the public about environmental policy solutions and cessation opportunities for individuals.

Pictured at the January 2019 Legislative Delegation Meeting: TFP members Marie Blanchard, Michelle Bollinger, and speaker SWAT student Jasmine Romano, with TPS Leslie Spurlock.

During these speeches and proclamations, many people are educated in the audience and via local television. As an example, a School Board member, the Superintendent, and the Director of the Education Foundation are in the attached photo at the Legislative Delegation meeting. People listen, especially to the students who speak from the heart and have first hand knowledge to share.

It is especially powerful when both students and adults speak together.

In the 2019 legislative session, tobacco bills were drafted by Senator Debbie Mayfield who is a delegate for Indian River County.  If passed as written both would have had a positive affect on tobacco prevention in this state. We like to think that listening to our SWAT students and Partnership adults speak over the years at the Annual Legislative Delegation meeting in Indian River County gave the Senator another reason to support tobacco prevention.

In September 2018, two SWAT youth and one Partnership member conducted five separate meetings with Indian River County Commissioners to talk about why tobacco free parks are a good idea. In December 2018, SWAT youth were invited to make a presentation at a public Commission meeting, so commissioners could discuss the possibility of a policy. SWAT conducted a great presentation to Commissioners bringing up all the points they discussed in September.

As a result, County staff were directed to draft a Resolution restricting the use of tobacco in all County Parks and Recreation areas. The final outcome was a Resolution passed by all five Commissioners in January 2019. Soon all parks and recreation areas will have signs posted, asking patrons to not smoke, vape, or chew tobacco.

For more information on the working on tobacco prevention issues in Indian River County, contact us at