News and Events

Columbia County Youth Pledge to Not Be Lab Rats!
October 16, 2019

The second annual Not A Lab Rat Day took place on Oct. 16 and this year, Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) wanted other teens to know that when it to comes to e-cigarettes, aka “vaping” products, history is repeating itself!

E-cigarette companies use the same tricks, including flavors and marketing campaigns, tobacco companies used for decades to target and recruit young smokers. Not a surprise considering Big Tobacco companies own or have significantly invested in e-cigarette companies. These are the same tobacco companies that for decades lied about the addictiveness and health effects of cigarettes.


SWAT clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, Lake City Middle School, Fort White High School and Fort White Middle School all took part in an anti-vaping pledging campaign where they had over 1,000 Columbia County students sign pledge cards refusing to be a lab rat and refusing to ever vape!

Richardson Sixth Grade Academy SWAT Sponsor Cecile Gomez commented, “Vaping is an important issue, especially for our youth as they are targeted by big tobacco companies. Educating this young group is a priority as those who use e-cigarettes are four times more like to starting smoke cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.”


SWAT is Florida’s youth-led movement to combat Big Tobacco. Not A Lab Rat Day is a statewide initiative that empowers youth to stand up and declare that they refuse to be the tobacco and e-cigarette industry’s “lab rats” as we wait and see the long-term health effects of vaping.

Youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country, including right here in Columbia County. E-cigarette companies claim their products are intended for adults, but alarming rates among teens tell a different story. About 25% of Florida high school students are vaping compared to 4% of Florida adults.

For more information on the SWAT Program in Ciolumbia County, contact Joseph O'Hern at