News and Events

Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs Celebrate Not a Lab Rat Day!
October 21, 2020

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Columbia County (TFP) and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy, Lake City Middle School and Fort White High School started this school year off by welcoming new members to each club and learning about the mission and values of the Florida SWAT organization. SWAT is youth organization that empowers youth ages 11-17 to utilize leadership and advocacy skills to de-glamorize the tobacco industry and their manipulative advertising toward youth. They promote policy change, engage in anti-tobacco activities and work towards a tobacco free future.

SWAT members were able to take action during the third annual Not A Lab Rat Day (NALR) observance on October 21st to educate about the dangers of disposable e-cigarettes and marketing efforts toward youth. This day allows youth to stand up and declare that they refuse to be Big Tobacco’s “lab rats” until we learn about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. The Richardson Sixth Grade Academy (RSGA) SWAT club observed the annual Not A Lab Rat Day initiative. RSGA SWAT members were highly creative with their ideas to raise awareness of this issue. They hosted a trivia game show to students in the school cafeteria and auditorium before school to get them engaged and to educate them on the facts of flavored e-cigarettes. Students in attendance volunteered to be contestants for a true or false game, all students were encouraged to answer the questions as they were being asked. The overall attendance for this observance was over 150 students and Not A Lab Rat selfie cards were handed out to increase awareness and allow them to list things they would do instead of being the Tobacco companies’ lab rat. RSGA SWAT members also hosted a pumpkin decorating contest. The contest included designing a pumpkin with anti-tobacco messaging.

Lake City Middle School SWAT club also observed NALR Day. SWAT members planned for this observance by designing posters with facts about e-cigarettes and how youth are being targeted by tobacco companies. They hung them throughout the school and designed a classroom door with messaging. SWAT members also shared NALR messages during the morning announcements school wide about e-cigarettes and how the vapor is not harmless but includes harmful substances, including nicotine. Overall, NALR Day was a great success at both schools and they continued their efforts throughout Red Ribbon Week that creates awareness around standing up against drug use, which includes tobacco.

SWAT clubs meet throughout the school year to become advocates for change while learning new skills in leadership, policy change, and decision making. They participate in school and community activities to change the social norms of tobacco. If you would like to learn more or join the Columbia County local SWAT chapter, contact Brooke Frye at or visit our Facebook page.