SWAT a drug prevention program in FLORIDA


Drug abuse has become a very serious issue among teenagers in America today.  The National Drug Intelligence Center (2004) reports more than 7.5 million young people ranging from 12-17 years of age have experimented with drugs at least once.  Whether it is for an escape from reality or a social high, the individual quickly gets hooked and an addiction to the drug is formed.  Our young people are vulnerable and it is for this reason that our policing agencies are investing their time and officers educating students on drug prevention and how to respond to peer pressure.  One of the most addicting drugs that teens have access to is tobacco.  This paper will focus on SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), a program that was designed by students to help students work against tobacco and the fallacies of the tobacco industry.

Florida is fighting back against tobacco companies by empowering students with the knowledge and truth behind the lies and manipulation that is sold by Big Tobacco.  Since the 1997 Florida state victory costing the tobacco industry billions of dollars in medical costs from Medicaid patients and the revamping of ads that promoted underage smoking; the state has been on a mission to reduce teen smoking and tobacco use. Not only have government officials felt moved to make a change, but young people are also taking a stand. In 1998, just 8 months after Florida called victory in the lawsuit against tobacco companies, nearly 600 students united together to form a group called SWAT. This group was to be run by students for students with the mission “to educate, unite, and empower the diverse segments of youth in Florida to revolt against the manipulation and targeting by Big Tobacco, specifically of youth, through the use of the truth message. “(Florida Swat, 2015)  Students helping students through education, media, marketing, involvement, enforcement, evaluation, and delivering truth is how SWAT is arming our young people.  The sole purpose of this drug prevention group is to get teens involved in making a real change in their home state.  Students have the ability to become advocates and work with law makers in Florida after receiving the real life training and attending workshops.  SWAT is more than just hanging out in a classroom talking about the latest cigarette commercial or chewing tobacco display at the grocery store.  Students that join this drug prevention group are referred to as SWAT members.  The SWAT members are dedicated to living a tobacco free life and revealing the secrets behind advertising efforts to hook teens into an early tobacco addiction.  The SWAT team also promotes the deadly facts about smoking.  Working on a local level and statewide this team of young people is determined to make a difference for generations to come. teens

SWAT’s main focus is on marketing and manipulation of the tobacco industry, it does not deal with the dangers or harmful effects this addicting drug plays on our youth.  (Florida SWAT, 2015)  Students are encouraged to join this group regardless of their culture and personal background.   SWAT has become a staple program for students that have fallen victim to the lies of advertising and have formed the bad habit of smoking.  Young people are rising above the lies and creating advocacy to help deliver SWAT’s main message, “Their brand is lies.  Our brand is truth.” (SWAT, 2014)  By using positive peer pressure and getting teens involved to make a real change in their community the success stories are tripling.  Ten other states have followed Florida’s fight against tobacco companies by joining the revolution and initiating programs that empower students to fight back against Big Tobacco.  Teens across the country are showing their worth and taking a stand every year on March 16th, our National Kick Butts Day.   This day is set aside to help students find value in themselves while delivering a message that they are not a replacement.

Through the education of Florida SWAT, 32 city ordinances and 27 county ordinances have been adopted that place tobacco products behind the retail counter and out of the reach of kids.  This is a success that students fought hard for in the Bay area after a tobacco company filed lawsuit against the movement.  Since 1998 thousands of students and many national organizations, such as Florida Health and The World Health Organization have joined Florida SWAT in creating publications and guides for international distribution.   Spreading the truth throughout the country is what drives these young people.  With successes to limiting second hand smoke and the passing of Amendment 6 to limit smoking in public places it would seem that SWAT is on the right path to promote a tobacco free life.  Working hand in hand with lawmakers SWAT members have become an essential part of the political process, educating decision makers on the necessity of tobacco prevention and dollars saved. The Florida SWAT group (2014) reports a 57% decline in the number of middle school students that smoke and a 37% decline in high school students.  There has also been a great decrease in the number of daily smokers, as many as 63% of middle school students have cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked in a single day.  Not only has there been a decrease in teen smoking, but this program celebrates with a success in the number of students that have committed to never smoke.   56% of middle school and 43% of high school youth have made the commitment to never smoke, even if a best friend offers them a joint.  This is an increase of 73% since the birth of the program in 1998.  This small victory against the effects of advertising by Big Tobacco is a huge success and will lead to more funding and education in schools across America.

Most of the funding for this group comes from internal fundraising by the students.  There are no grants set aside and no major sponsorship.  SWAT faces budget cuts that threaten students from participating in statewide tours that allow them to spread the awareness and truth on tobacco companies.  With great effort students and staff members continue to pull together managing to find ways to raise the much needed funds and to get the word out, reaching thousands of youth from every county in the state of Florida.

Teens are uniting across the state and throughout America with great force to take down tobacco companies.  They are focusing on eliminating promotional efforts that target teens.  By meeting goals to promote public policies to reduce tobacco use, expose the efforts of the tobacco industry that mislead children, and strengthen control efforts by providing support to teens SWAT will continue to be successful in making tobacco free schools and social behaviors of students.  The war against tobacco will be won as our future generation is empowered with the truth to fight back.  Exposing the lies and manipulation of Big Tobacco drives these students.  Truth is knowledge and knowledge is power, may this be a warning to the tobacco industry.



SWAT. (2014, November 18). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://swatflorida.com/

Students Working Against Tobacco. (2015, April 15). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.gen-swat.com/

Teens and Drugs Fast Facts. (2004, November 1). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs11/12430/


Drug Analysis


Research shows drug use can be extremely harmful to the human body.  The damage can be extensive and affect the body both physically and psychologically. Yet, since the discovery of drugs more and more individuals find it hard to overcome the addiction.  In fact, surveys conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2010) reflect an increase on drug use in America, with 23.5 million Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs.  According to Abdadinsky, (2014), “several attempts have been made to explain why some people become dependent on chemicals while others, even those who use the same substances, do not.”  This paper will analyze and evaluate the differences between alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy; by identifying the composition, manufacture and cultivation of the drug, how it is used, and the physical and psychological effects on the human body.  Furthermore, this paper will identify one theory that best explains why an individual would chose to use one or more of the chosen drugs aforementioned above.

Alcohol is a depressant and is the most common substance that causes addiction in the United States.  Statistics show over 17 million people suffer from alcohol use or dependency, and several more million show patterns that will lead to addiction.  The alcohol abuse affects more than seven million children in the Unites States; forcing them to fall victim of the effects of alcohol abuse in their own home.  (NCADD, 2015) Ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient in many alcoholic beverages consumed by Americans today.  It is produced by fermenting carbohydrates to ethyl alcohol by growing yeast cells.  The main raw materials that are fermented for the production of alcohol include sugar cane, barley, corn, and flavoring. (Britannica, 2012) The Ethyl alcohol is found in beer, wine, and other spirits that are produced and sold in liquor stores, food markets, and restaurants.  Anheuser Busch is a major manufacturer of beer in the U.S.  The beer is brewed and fermented from malted barley grain and flavored with hops.  The Barley is cultivated on a private farm in Idaho.  Ethanol is a 2 carbon alcohol, the molecular formula is CH3CH2OH. (Britannica, 2012) This depressant has become a social drink, making it even more dangerous.  It is known as the life of the party, has power to drowned out the memory of a bad breakup, and relax the mind.  It can be consumed alone or with a group of people and is very easy to obtain.  For most adults moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful.  Anything over two drinks per day is considered excessive and heavy drinking and can be life threatening.  Alcohol affects all body systems over an extended period of use.  Consumption results in higher risks of liver cancer, ulcer disease, brain damage, chronic active hepatitis, and impairment of the immune system.  Heavy consumption decreases production of all blood cells, lowering the immune system and resistance to infections, and also decreases lifetime expectancy.  The negative effects are limitless and can also damage one’s emotional stability, finances, impact family and other personal relationships stripping the user of the life that he once knew.

Cocaine is a very powerful and very addicting drug that affects the brain instantaneously.   The chemical formula of cocaine is C17H21NO4.  (Britannica, 2012) It is derived from the coca plant and has been abused for over 100 years.  Cocaine comes in two forms; hydrochloride salt which is a powder and dissolves in water.  It is in this form that the user can inject the drug into their blood stream intravenously or snort it through the nasal passage.  The second form of cocaine is known as freebase; in this form the user can smoke the cocaine for a more intense affect.  Cocaine is a stimulant and can cause the user to feel energized, be extremely talkative, mentally alert, sensitivity to sight and sound, and causes the pupils to dilate.  Among these short term effects lie the hidden long term effects which include: restlessness, paranoia, and irritability.  Cocaine is extremely dangerous for the body in a physical stance causing irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, seizures, and strokes.  This drug is cultivated in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.  The cultivation process begins weeding the bad seeds out.  The farmer will plant the crop in the best part of his field where the water drains off into the river.  The crop is maintained for 12 to 24 months and after maturity the leaves are removed, dried, and prepared for cocaine processing.  (Rhodium, 1993)

Ecstasy is a popular hallucinogen that is known in the club world as a date rape drug.  Unlike alcohol and cocaine which come from natural ingredients and plants of the earth, this drug is synthesized in a laboratory.  It is a designer drug created by altering the molecular structure of the amphetamine.  Ecstasy has a molecular formula of C11H15NO2   and contains caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, and methamphetamine. (Britannica, 2012) This drug is most commonly taken orally and is often slipped unknowingly into an individual’s drink.  It can also be inhaled, injected, and snorted.  Once the drug has entered the body it quickly finds a passageway to the brain.  It is absorbed into the bloodstream very easily and affects the liver, heart, lungs, and brain of the human body.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014) it will take 15 minutes from the time that the drug is ingested to reach the brain.  It causes short term and long term effects on the human brain.  The short term effects include feeing empathy and warm feelings towards others, decreased anxiety, and mental stimulation.  This is a happy drug that temporarily increases your positivity and mood and will increase sexual arousal.  Ecstasy has also been known to increase paranoia, reduce pleasure, and cause intense depression.  After ingesting the drug the user will experience chills, blurred vision, nausea, hallucinations, and fever.

Most individuals begin using drugs as a means to cope with a social issue or because they have witnessed a friend or family member using the substance at one time or another.  This is an example of the social theory on drugs.  According to Abadinsky (2014) most young people seek out drugs to cope with depression, alienation, or parental disapproval.  Individuals that use alcohol tend to do it in a social setting usually with friends to enhance the mood and liven things up.  It is also a relaxation tool and helps the user unwind in stressful situations, like a first date.  Cocaine is another social drug that is used in secret with a small group that are seeking an escape from reality.  The individuals most likely already share a bound and have experimented with other drugs before.  Young people see drugs as an easy way to connect with peers and to get through the common hardships that come as a teen in a world.

These three drugs are very common in that they change the behavior of the user and increase chances of physical harm to oneself or others.  The chances of death is increased while under the influence of the illegal substances.  Alcohol and Cocaine offer a quick rush while ecstasy requires more time to influence the mental functions of the brain.  One thing remains they are dangerous whether used in a solo setting or with a large group.  The physical and psychological effects will stay with you and may impair you for a lifetime, leaving you in shambles.


Join Together Staff Writer. (2010, September 28). New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.drugfree.org/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drug-addiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-r/

Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Alcohol & Drug Information. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://ncadd.org/for-the-media/alcohol-a-drug-information

Ethyl alcohol | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/194354/ethyl-alcohol

Cocaine | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/123441/cocaine

Ecstasy| chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/378657/Ecstasy

Rhodium. (1993, January 1). Coca Cultivation and Cocaine Processing: An Overview – [www.rhodium.ws]. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://erowid.org/archive/rhodium/chemistry/coca2cocaine.html

The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA). (2014, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-ecstasy/section-i/4-what-we-know-about-ecstasy