Sarasota — Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), Florida’s youth-led statewide organization, is one of six individuals and groups to be honored with a 2019 World No Tobacco Day award for their Not A Lab Rat campaign.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) awards winners to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of the policies and measures contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The WHO celebrates World No Tobacco Day each year on May 31 to raise awareness of the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.

In 2018, SWAT launched the Not A Lab Rat campaign in response to the epidemic-level spike in youth e-cigarette use around the country and in Florida. The statewide initiative seeks to correct misconceptions about the health consequences related to use of e-cigarettes and urges Florida youth to declare that they will not be test subjects in the vaping industry’s long-term experiment.

“We are incredibly proud of SWAT on this major accomplishment,” said Charles Henry, Health Officer DOH Sarasota. “The Not A Lab Rat campaign is very deserving of this international recognition. Their efforts to educate their peers on the misconceptions of vaping is vital to protecting future generations from nicotine addiction.

“We appreciate all of the work that SWAT is doing throughout Sarasota County and across the State of Florida.”

For decades, SWAT has worked diligently to mobilize, educate, and equip Florida youth in revolting against and de-glamorizing the tobacco industry. SWAT coordinates its efforts through a Youth Advocacy Board (YAB), a 16-member board that consists of SWAT members elected by their peers. The youth leaders elected to the YAB develop statewide initiatives to support prevention efforts and provide web-based and face-to-face trainings to their peers in support of local and statewide advocacy work.

In Sarasota County, local SWAT members have promoted the Not A Lab Rat campaign by sending postcards to e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, educating the public and their peers about the dangers associated with e-cigarette and nicotine use, and participated in community events to spread awareness of this public health epidemic.

To learn more about Students Working Against Tobacco, visit: swatflorida.com or follow us on Instagram at @swatflorida.

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