News and Events

Indian River County SWAT Students Continue To De-Glamorize Big Tobacco
By Michelle Calandro
December 15, 2023

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is a youth coalition whose mission is to mobilize, educate and equip Florida’s youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. The SWAT Chapter in Indian River County currently has active SWAT Clubs at Gifford Middle School and Indian River Charter High School. The program is open to all Indian River County youth who are in grades 6-12. Indian River County is on track to start a Community Based club in 2024. The past few months have been filled with many successful activities for the clubs that have included training for the youth and opportunities for them to educate their peers.

This quarter, SWAT students continued their advocacy efforts to improve their schools and community. At Gifford Middle School the students participated in Red Ribbon week, October 23rd-26th, 2023. Red Ribbon Week highlights the importance of living a drug-free life. It presents an opportunity for parents, educators, and communities to reinforce the drug-free messages they share with their children throughout the year. The SWAT students at Gifford Middle School focused on educating about the dangers of Big Tobacco and vaping and the choice to stay tobacco free. Students played a jeopardy style game with the goal of spreading awareness of the dangers of tobacco and vaping. The school cafeteria helped make the event memorable by serving red foods. The students will remember Red Ribbon week and the pledge to say no to tobacco for years to come.

The students at Indian River Charter High School chose to focus on Not A Lab Rat Day and planned and executed an incredible Escape Room during the school’s Carnival on October 20th, 2023. Not a Lab Rat Day is a statewide tobacco control observance that empowers students to stand up to the tobacco industry and proclaim that they will not test e-cigarettes (vapes) on their bodies.



On October 28th, 2023 two students from Indian River Charter High School, Abigail Gast and Giovanni Russo, attended the Burea of Tobacco Free Florida Region 4 Training at the Broward County Department of Health. At this meeting the students were able to meet with students from other SWAT clubs in the region who share the common goal of revolting against Big Tobacco and empowering youth toward a tobacco free future. The training included Youth led presentations, activities, and fun! Each student had a chance to let their public speaking skills shine, as they presented a poster that they created at the event.

To wrap up this quarter’s activities, a SWAT student at Indian River Charter High School, Hannah Harris will be conducting an interview with the school resource officer to gather local perspectives on vaping, including how supportive enforcement can help youth quit vaping.  

For more information on the SWAT Chapter in Indian River County, please contact Laura Barnes at