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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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March 15, 2018

Palatka, Fla. - Putnam County's Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) are fighting back against the tobacco industry for the 23rd annual Kick Butts Day on March 21, 2018. This national day of activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, encourages youth to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive marketing and stay tobacco free.

SWAT's theme this year is "Inform, Expose, and Kick Butts!" The student-led organization is focused on educating Florida youth about Big Tobacco's lies, and the $558.8 million spent each year in Florida alone to aggressively market their harmful products to vulnerable populations, including youth. Each day in the United States, more than 3,200 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 2,100 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.

This year Putnam County SWAT will "Kicks Butt" at the Putnam County Fair. Students will have a pledge banner for youth to sign to be the first Tobacco Free Generation! The effort is supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the CVS Health Foundation who provided the materials. Youth are encouraged to pledge to never use tobacco products and reject the tobacco industry marketing tactics to entice them to start.

"Three years ago, SWAT worked to make our fairgrounds smoke-free" said Neelam Patel, the chair of the Putnam County SWAT chapter, "We were successful and were one of the first counties to have a smoke-free fair. We still have a lot of work to do and hope to make the fair 100% tobacco free in the future!"

About 90 percent of smokers start before they turn 18 and rarely consider the long-term health consequences of smoking. Because of nicotine, the highly addictive drug found in tobacco, three out of four youth smokers continue smoking well into adulthood, often with deadly consequences. In fact, about half of long-term smokers die prematurely from smoking-related causes.

According to the Surgeon General, if smoking continues at the current rate among youth in the United States, 5.6 million of today's Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking-related illness. That’s about one of every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger alive today.

As new and emerging tobacco products become more popular, especially among our youth, Tobacco Free Florida is committed to educating youth about the dangers of tobacco and the importance of prevention. SWAT aims to empower, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against Big Tobacco. SWAT is a movement of youth working together to de-glamorize tobacco use. Their efforts aim to shape tobacco free norms, make tobacco less desirable, less acceptable and less accessible. For more information or to get involved, visit

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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About Tobacco Free Florida

The department's Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida's tobacco settlement fund. Since the program began in 2007, more than 188,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free Florida's free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, visit or follow the campaign on Facebook at or on Twitter at