News and Events

Columbia County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapter Continues to Share Its Prevention Message
February 28, 2021

This quarter, our Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) club members continued their advocacy efforts in the schools and community. We would like to recognize one member in particular, our Ft. White High School SWAT President, Gabby Griffis for her dedication to educating her peers and community decision makers about the dangers of all tobacco products, specifically smokeless tobacco.

  On February 18th, Gabby spoke to the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners about a public awareness campaign observed February 21-27, “Through With Chew Week” that focuses on encouraging smokeless tobacco users to set a date to quit. Her speech talked about the impacts smokeless tobacco has on a rural community, with these populations having higher rates of preventable diseases and youth experimental use beginning at an earlier age. She went on to mention that these products have higher amounts of nicotine than cigarettes which alone can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, narrowing and hardening of the arteries that lead to heart attacks and strokes. Gabby has shared her knowledge of the health effects from chemicals and nicotine found in tobacco and her personal stories of how tobacco has affected her life in hopes of preventing future generations from becoming addicted.    

SWAT clubs at Richardson Sixth Grade Academy (RSGA), Lake City Middle School and Fort White High School and Middle School are always working hard to raise awareness of current tobacco issues among youth and inviting new members to join their fight against Big Tobacco.

Although the focus this month is on reducing the use of smokeless tobacco, SWAT members are encouraging their peers to be their own health advocate and learn about how all tobacco products affect their bodies and brain, whether that be cigarettes, dip, cigars, or e-cigarettes. RSGA members took their facts and hit the concrete with a walk-a-thon to show their peers the truth. They wrote facts and messages with chalk on the track at school and read stories from people that used chewing tobacco to get the full reality of what tobacco can take from you. Ft. White Middle School members designed a banner that stated, “Don’t Let Your Future Go Up In Smoke” and were taking pledges from students to not use tobacco. The commitment these members and students show to educating one another brings hope that we can have a tobacco free future.

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 @ or visit our Facebook page at