News and Events

DeSoto Students Working Against Tobacco Youth are Working Hard to Educate on the Dangers of Tobacco Use
December 13, 2021

Our DeSoto SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) kicked the 21-22 school year off with a bang. Youth have been busy the past several months educating their peers and the community on the dangers associated with tobacco and vape use and secondhand smoke.
We believe in quality over quantity, but beyond proud to say our local SWAT numbers have more than double since kicking off the new school year in August. We recently established a new club at West Elementary School where our 5th graders are now able to participate in the mission of SWAT and help educate their younger peers. Our DeSoto Middle School Club is up nearly 40 new members this year alone. In addition, our high school club has also recruited new active members, as well as adults, who are helping volunteer their time to spread awareness and reduce the use of social norms and tobacco use in our community.

DeSoto Middle School SWAT Youth (Caleigh Duke, Liam Gilmore, and Gracie Sager) receive a Red Ribbon Week proclamation from Commissioner JC Deriso after presenting to BOCC Members.

In addition to becoming more active within their individual schools, our SWAT Youth are working hard to spread awareness and become more present within the community. On December 12th, DeSoto SWAT Youth presented at our Board of County Commissioners meeting, educating them on current youth tobacco rates and the continued epidemic we see with youth vaping. Youth shared Florida Youth Tobacco Survey results and what they are seeing in their schools. They also shared their plans for Red Ribbon Week and received a proclamation.

We have been working closely with DeSoto County School Board the past several years to implement a stronger tobacco free policy within our school district. On November 9th, our middle school SWAT Youth presented at the school board meeting, sharing recent data, trends they see in schools, and briefly hit on the recent updates available to the board via NEOLA, an organization our district is partnered with who provides board policies that secure the quality of teaching and learning, and provide direction to enhance the school environment. The suggested NEOLA policy would close the gaps in current policy and create a comprehensive tobacco free environment for DeSoto County Schools. SWAT Youth asked board members to adopt the policy as written when it is presented.

In addition to these activities, our SWAT Youth participated in the Main Street Market by setting up a booth, met during Thanksgiving beak to design and create a Christmas Card that will be on display at “Christmas Card Lane” in downtown Arcadia, and youth will also be walking in the Christmas parade on December 4th handing out candy and palm cards.

We are so very proud of our youth and the initiative they are putting forth to advocate for their health and a tobacco free future in DeSoto County. Quarter two was a huge success and we look forward to what the New Year has in store for our Youth.   

If you are interested in partnering with our SWAT Youth or would like more information, please contact Lindsey Sager at