News and Events

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco Youth Educate Local Decision Makers on Point-of-Sale Tobacco Advertising
November 1, 2016

ARCADIA, FL — DeSoto High School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth, along with Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Jodie DeLoach, attended the Arcadia City Council Meeting on November 1, 2016. Youth attendees had a wonderful time representing their school as well as the SWAT program, and took advantage of the opportunity to educate local decision makers and community members on the dangers of tobacco use, as well as encourage policy makers to implement change.

To kick things off, Jodie DeLoach presented the Council with a brief history overview of the Tobacco Free Florida program. She explained that the TFF program was launched in 2007 after Florida’s voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment, Article X, Section 27. This amendment called for establishing a comprehensive tobacco education and use prevention program using a percentage of the state’s tobacco settlement fund. She also clarified that TFF is administered through the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida (BTFF), and funded by money derived from the state’s tobacco settlement agreement with the major tobacco companies in 1997, not by local tax dollars.

Jodie DeLoach, Tobacco Prevention Specialist, gives the City Council of Arcadia a brief history overview of the Tobacco Free Florida Program, before introducing SWAT Youth.

After giving a brief overview, Jodie introduced the SWAT Youth in attendance, who then shared a few updates and activities they have been working on thus far this year.
The DeSoto County SWAT Chapter is working hard to complete Point of Sale (POS) Store Audits on all licensed tobacco retailers within DeSoto County. We currently have 33 tobacco retailers to assess locally, and thanks to the collaboration between SWAT Youth and the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County, nearly half of the audits have been completed. SWAT Youth and TFP members both really enjoyed being a part of this activity, as it was truly an eye-opening experience for all involved.

SWAT Youth (picture L to R) Jaqui Cruz, Ciera Crews, Juliana Espinoza, and Lauren Wiley educate the City Council on local statistics and encourage them to adopt and implement policy change. 

“Prior to doing the audits, I never paid attention to all of the tobacco, beer and alcohol items being pushed. The amount of stuff being sold is unbelievable.” - Rev. Dr. Sharon T. Goodman, TFP Member

“It was surprising to me to see the huge amount and variety of flavored tobacco products that are available to youth.” – Katie Muniz, DHS SWAT youth
In addition to POS store audits, SWAT Youth are also working closely with the TFP to expand Tobacco Free Worksites here in DeSoto County. We feel strongly that implementing more tobacco free zones throughout our community will diminish the socially accepted behaviors associated with tobacco use. We also believe that more tobacco free worksites will assist in decreasing the percentage of tobacco users, reducing the amount of youth exposure to second hand smoke, and increasing the overall health of DeSoto County residents.

To conclude the presentation, SWAT Youth shared a few local statics with the Council and thanked them for their time. City Council members were very receptive of the information and the TFP of DeSoto County looks forward to working with the City of Arcadia in the near future to implement policy change throughout our community.