News and Events

Highlands County SWAT Chapter: Growing. Learning. Teaching
September 14, 2023

SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) is Florida's statewide youth organization working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco. SWAT is a united movement of empowered youth working towards a tobacco-free future. SWAT works to change the social norms associated with tobacco. This means we want to change the way people think about tobacco… making it less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible.

SWAT Youth accomplish this by advocating for change in local policies that affect how tobacco is marketed, how it is sold, and where it can be used. SWAT members can typically expect to participate in a wide range of activities including community education and outreach, public speaking, collecting data, and media advocacy.


The Highlands County SWAT Chapter has been a driving force in tobacco prevention within their school district for many years. Currently there are 7 SWAT Clubs in Highlands County, Avon Park Middle School, Avon Park High School, Lake Placid Middle School, Lake Placid High School, Hill Gustat Middle School, Sebring Middle School and Sebring High School. This year, the SWAT Chapter plans to add a community-based club to the mix, in hopes of reaching lower socio-economic populations, as they are more susceptible to tobacco use.

Over the long summer break, two Highlands County SWAT youth attended the 3-day Statewide SWAT meeting in Lakeland, Florida. The two enjoyed interacting with other SWAT youth across the state and learning many useful things they can bring back to their local SWAT Chapter. During the training there were several sessions that had various guest speakers and a townhall panel. Sessions included topics such as Resilience (knowing your why), Tobacco 101, Mission Statement building, connecting with your community, Developing Your Creative Voice, and more. The SWAT youth look forward to this meeting every year and this year was the best one yet!

In addition, the SWAT Chapter of Highlands County has big plans this year, which include presentations at the school board meetings to advocate for a comprehensive tobacco free policy, promoting the online student, teacher and nurse tobacco education course, and ramping up their social media presence. They plan to continue participating in community events, volunteering their time to help with the Tobacco Free Partnerships advocacy efforts and are also looking forward to having a booth at the annual Sebring Soda Festival!

For more information on the SWAT Chapter of Highlands County, contact Amanda John, Program Manager at