Students Working against Tobacco from Madison County and 17 other counties in Northwest Florida, in partnership with Florida Department of Health Tobacco Prevention Programs, participated in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday. According to the Ocean Conservancy more than 1.6 billion cigarette butts accumulate as litter in lakes, oceans and on beaches each year.
Madison County youth attending the annual Regional SWAT Meeting at the Florida Department of Health in Bay County joined fellow attendees to pick up trash and cigarette butts at Carl Gray Park in Bay County. At the regional meeting, the youth network completed training and elected the region’s 2014-2015 Youth Advocacy Board members.
SWAT, founded in 1998, is Florida’s statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip a student-led revolt against big tobacco companies. Big Tobacco spends millions in Florida to recruit new users and keep their current ones.
SWAT’s mission empowers the teens to de-normalize tobacco and put a spotlight on the tobacco industry’s role in the tobacco epidemic. Through grassroots-style activities, SWAT strives to make tobacco less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.
This regional SWAT project also supports the State Surgeon General’s Healthiest Weight Florida and Florida Health Cleans Up Initiatives. The Florida Department of Health recognizes the importance of keeping the state litter free. In response to the Department of Transportation’s new litter prevention educational campaign, the Department of Health formed clean-up teams around the state. The goal is to encourage physical activity and walking, while emphasizing how small choices affect residents’ health and environment.