News and Events

Highlands County SWAT Focuses Kick Butts Day Awareness on Youth Use of JUUL
March 20, 2019

Each year, on the third Wednesday of March, schools and communities across the country and around the world organize events for Kick Butts Day - a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focused on kicking Juul, the e-cigarette that has become enormously popular among youth across the country and in Highlands County. School officials in Highlands County report Juul usage to be one of their biggest battles with students. There have been a multitude of the devices floating around campus, students are being caught with them, accidentally leaving them in classrooms, selling the devices, as well as the pods, and even lacing them with other substances like THC. This has resulted in administrators and teachers cracking down and law enforcement seizing and testing the pods for other substances.

The SWAT Chapter of Highlands County tackled Kick Butts Day this year by doing a district wide awareness campaign urging their peers not to be a lab rat! Scattered around each middle and high school campus, they placed Kick Butts Day flyers that included messages on the harmful effects e-cigarettes have on the body. From the school entrance, the cafeteria, locker rooms and even in the bathroom stalls, the “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” flyers made a statement and SWAT students don’t plan to stop there. The Not A Lab Rat Campaign will continue throughout the remainder of the year and more than likely into next.

On Kick Butts Day, youth and health advocates called for strong action to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic. In particular, they called on the Food and Drug Administration, states and cities to ban all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes in flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear and mango that tempt kids

While cigarette smoking among high school students nationwide has fallen to 8.1 percent, e-cigarette use among high schoolers rose by an alarming 78 percent in 2018 alone – to 20.8 percent of the student population. In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. U.S. public health leaders have called youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic” that is addicting a new generation of kids.

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