News and Events

Bradford County Teens Tell Big Tobacco:
We are Not “Replacements”
March 18 , 2014

The tobacco industry is losing customers. Not only are more smokers quitting, every day, an estimated 1,315 people in the United States die because of smoking. 

In response, the tobacco industry targets a new generation of potential nicotine addicts, which they call “replacement smokers.” A 1984 internal document from R.J. Reynolds’, the makers of Camel, stated: “Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers… If younger adults turn away from smoking, the industry must decline, just as a population which does not give birth will eventually dwindle.”

On Kick Butts Day, Bradford County’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs spoke up and took action to let Big Tobacco know they will be not replacements. Kick Butts Day, which this year was celebrated on March 19, is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids national day of activism that empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

The Bradford High School (BHS) SWAT club planned a Kick Butts Day community activity.
BHS SWAT youth had an informational booth set-up at the Bradford County Fair. BHS SWAT Students reached thousands of Bradford County Residents and visitors about the Not being a replacement to tobacco companies. The BHS SWAT club set up a fortune teller booth and told visitors of the booth how tobacco use could impact their future.

Bradford County Fair
Carson Elder, Bradford County High School SWAT Vice-President, at the Bradford County Fair

“We wanted to inform and educate Bradford County Youth and other community members on how tobacco companies market to young people.” said Mackenzie Gault, BHS SWAT President. “440,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. We hope by educating the youth in Bradford County they will not become tobacco users now or in the future.”

For each smoking-related death, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day. These young people rarely consider the long-term health consequences of smoking when they start. Because of nicotine, a highly addictive drug, three out of four youth continue smoking well into adulthood, often with serious and even deadly consequences. In fact, about half of long-term smokers will die prematurely from smoking-related causes.

“Events like Kick Butts Day help youth understand that they are the targets of the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Barry Hummel of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, which coordinates the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT in Bradford County.” “Nothing is more eye-opening to a teenager than to realize that they are being manipulated into making a bad decision, a decision that will have life-long consequences.  Sadly, teenagers still make up 85% of new tobacco users each and every year because of those impulsive decisions.”

“Youth have always been a target for the tobacco industry,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. “Numerous internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the tobacco companies perceived young people as an important target. They developed products, like flavored tobacco, and marketing campaigns aimed at teens.”

For more information on the Bradford County SWAT program, contact Jenna Hewett at jhewett@quitdoc.com.