SWAT students share stats with Crestview City Council

‘Tobacco-free facilities benefit our community’

Brian Hughes | Special to the News Bulletin/USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — Students from SWAT, Crestview High School’s anti-tobacco group, brought their concerns about addictive smoking, smokeless tobacco and electronic vaping products before the City Council at its recent meeting.

Armed with statistics and research, the SWAT — Students Working Against Tobacco — members shared facts and figures with council members, elected and appointed city officials, including the alarming fact that more than one in five Okaloosa County middle and high school students have used tobacco or vaping products over the course of a month.

Crestview High School Students Working Against Tobacco — SWAT — members took turns addressing the City Council about the hazards of tobacco and electronic vaping devices. From left are Juliana Bascom, president; Marta Elliott, vice president; Lauren Woodward, secretary (at podium); and Daniela Elliott, historian. Khila Hoffman, recruitment chair, was a major contributor to the group’s presentation but could not be present..

That average — 21.1 percent — surpasses the Florida average of 18.3 percent.

A program of the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, SWAT members do more than work to educate their peers about the hazards of tobacco addiction. They also work to help them quit if they have fallen victim to tobacco and vaping companies’ slick marketing or peer pressure from smoking friends.

Mayor JB Whitten praised the SWAT students for their courage to tackle a difficult subject and put together the PowerPoint presentation for the council.

Okaloosa County Health Department Students Working Against Tobacco program coordinator Anamaria Penagos joins Crestview High School SWAT members Lauren Woodward, Juliana Bascom, Daniela Elliott and Lauren Woodward in front of the city council at its June 14 meeting in Crestview.

“You did a great job,” he told Juliana Bascom, Marta Elliott, Lauren Woodward and Daniela Elliott, who each took turn presenting part of the slide show. “Thank you for doing that and helping educate the City Council about this issue.”

Asked by the mayor what action they would recommend, SWAT President Juliana Bascom immediately said, “Make all parks and public facilities smoke-free. Tobacco-free facilities benefit our community.”

Anamaria Penagos, health educator consultant at the county health department and Students Working Against Tobacco coordinator, said she was proud of the girls’ presentation and hoped it made an impact on the city council.

SPEAKING BEFORE THE CITY COUNCIL

At its public meetings, the Crestview City Council receives presentations from a vast variety of individuals, groups and organizations on an equally vast number of topics of concern. Such presentations serve to educate council members, elected and appointed city officials and bring to their attention the needs and accomplishments of the presenters.

To have an organization’s presentation placed on the City Council’s agenda, contact City Clerk Elizabeth Roy at 850-682-1560 (then press 2), or via email at elizabethroy@cityofcrestview.org.

The public is invited to all city council meetings. To speak during the public comment period, complete a yellow card prior to the start of the meeting and hand it to the City Clerk.