Students Working Against Tobacco Gives Florida Youth the Tools They Need To Help Reduce the Tobacco Industry’s Influence and Advocate for Change.

The need for youth to speak up and make their voices heard about the issues they care about is as important as ever, which is why one student-led organization in Florida is leading the way in the fight against the tobacco industry and the addictive products that target youth.

Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is a statewide youth organization focused on educating, empowering, and mobilizing Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. As a member of the Brevard SWAT chapter and an elected member of SWAT’s statewide Youth Advocacy Board, I believe SWAT is an important cause more youth should get involved in. In our county, 1 in 7 (14%) of Youth (ages 11-17) vape or use another toxic tobacco product (Source: Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 2022). Despite significant progress over the years, tobacco and e-cigarette use is still prevalent, and the tobacco industry’s antics must be stopped. SWAT is working to change the social norms associated with tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

SWAT has been educating and empowering youth and communities since 1998. SWAT has had several successful initiatives throughout the years. ‘Not a Replacement’ was a statewide campaign where thousands of youth reminded tobacco companies that they are unique individuals with the potential to make a positive impact on their community. ‘Not a Lab Rat’ is the current statewide campaign that focuses on the truth behind e-cigarettes and how youth can stop the spread of misinformation. Through such initiatives, SWAT continues to work toward changing the way people think about tobacco, making it less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.

My reason for joining SWAT was clear. I joined SWAT because I wanted to pursue a career in advocacy, and I saw the opportunity to be a voice for my peers. Joining SWAT helped me by not only giving me leadership opportunities in my school but connecting me to fellow youth advocates throughout the state who are as interested in SWAT’s impactful cause as I am.

In our community, the Brevard SWAT chapter is forming in order to make a greater impact in our community. As a joint effort, Brevard SWAT youth have come together while participating in beach cleanup events, in addition to promoting and recruiting at school and community events.

There is still work to be done to protect our generation and future generations from the tobacco industry. By working with peers, students can create change that will keep tobacco products out of Brevard and improve the health of our family, friends, and community. SWAT is open to all Florida youth in 6th-12th grade. There is a SWAT chapter in every county in Florida, and some counties also have clubs in schools and community organizations. In Brevard, we have active clubs in Melbourne High School, Eau Gallie High School, Palm Bay High School, and a growing Brevard chapter group.

If you are interested in learning more about SWAT and how youth can get involved, contact Lara Figueroa at or visit I hope that in writing this, more youth are inspired to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry by joining SWAT.

– SWAT State Youth Advocacy Board and Brevard County SWAT Chapter member