News and Events

Dixie County SWAT Youth Visit Sen. Bill Nelson's Office to Discuss Bill to Strip FDA Regulatory Authority Over Cigars
By Melanie Anderson, Tobacco Prevention Specialist of Dixie County / February 2012

On February 10, 2012 three of the Dixie County High School SWAT club officers met with Lynn T. Bannister, Director of Outreach/Regional Director for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson at the former Old Town Elementary Facility to discuss the proposed bill S.1461 “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act”
This proposed law would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and stripthe Food and Drug Administration's regulation over traditional and premium cigars.
Chelsy Cannon, Theresa Lehman, and Ashton Nail met with Mrs. Bannister to share their concerns about the proposed bill and how it could increase tobacco use by youth in Dixie County.
Chelsy Cannon, SWAT president, shared with Mrs. Bannister that the SWAT club has been working with the Dixie County Commissioners and the Cross City Council to make policy changes that limit the tobacco industry’s influence on the youth of Dixie County.  This includes the recent Ordinance to require candy flavored tobacco products to be placed behind the counter and out of the reach of kids. 
Miss Cannon also shared some pictures of traditional cigars and candy-flavored cigars in local stores in Dixie County.  The SWAT students offered a long list of the many various candy flavors that can be found in the cigars in Dixie County such as strawberry, peach and vanilla.
Ashton Nail described how powerful the industry advertising of candy-flavored cigars and other tobacco products is on the youth.  She explained how kids see these products as safe and fun due to the placement of the ads at child eye level on doors and near other kid safe products.  She shared photos of these ads to Mrs. Bannister. 

Dixie County HS SWAT Leaders

Dixie County High School SWAT Leaders
(L to R): Theresa Lehman, Chelsy Cannon, Ashton Nail

One of the outcomes of the proposed bill will be a decrease in the price of the cigars sold in Florida.  Theresa Lehman discussed the current lower price of cigars compared to other tobacco products in Dixie County.  Theresa gave Mrs. Bannister a picture of a candy favored cigar ad that was placed on a local gas stations window. Theresa shared that the lower price and individual tobacco product are much more convenient for teenagers to purchase and hide from parents compared to purchasing other tobacco products. 

Mrs. Bannister was interested in the fact that these products were so inexpensive.

During the 2010 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 15.5% of Dixie County High School students reported to have tried smoking a cigar over the last 30 days.  Cigars are not just a tobacco product used by old men and expecting fathers, it is another product that the tobacco industry uses to target youth as potential customers.

Mrs. Bannister was impressed with the convictions of the SWAT youth. She said that she will be glad to share the information on Cigars with Senator Bill Nelson.  She committed to continue to have contact with the SWAT youth on possible changes to the proposed bill S.1461 by e-mail.