News and Events

Dixie County Teens Tell Big Tobacco:
We are Not “Replacements”

March 19, 2014

The tobacco industry is losing customers. Not only are more smokers quitting, every day, an estimated 1,315 people in the United States die because of smoking. 

In response, the tobacco industry targets a new generation of potential nicotine addicts, which they call “replacement smokers.” A 1984 internal document from R.J. Reynolds’, the makers of Camel, stated: “Younger adult smokers are the only source of replacement smokers… If younger adults turn away from smoking, the industry must decline, just as a population which does not give birth will eventually dwindle.”

On Kick Butts Day, Dixie County’s Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs spoke up and took action to let Big Tobacco know they will be not replacements. Kick Butts Day, which this year was celebrated on March 20, is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids national day of activism that empowers youth to fight back against Big Tobacco.

Dixie KBD

The Dixie County High School SWAT and the Dixie County Tobacco Free Partnership planned an event for Kick Butts Day event to be held at the Dixie County High School Media Center.  The SWAT youth organized a display in the Media Center/Library so that all of the Dixie County High School students could view the information about how big tobacco targets youth.  Students were able to discuss with the SWAT youth and the SWAT Advisor about how they can decide now that they will not be a replacement customer of big tobacco.  Many of the students filled out an “I am Not a Replacement, I am….” Statement to show how they are more than a target for big tobacco.  The students were proud of their statement and were willing to pose for a picture to share with SWAT youth all over Florida.

Dixie KBD

“I will not give up my dream of becoming a family practitioner by wasting my time and money on tobacco” said Sarah Hurst, Dixie County High School SWAT President. Sarah shared with her peers at DCHS about the many ways that the tobacco industry targets the youth in Dixie County, like using flavors such as peach, apple and grape to make the tobacco product seem sweet and safe. 

For each smoking-related death, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day. These young people rarely consider the long-term health consequences of smoking when they start. Because of nicotine, a highly addictive drug, three out of four youth continue smoking well into adulthood, often with serious and even deadly consequences. In fact, about half of long-term smokers will die prematurely from smoking-related causes.

Dixie KBD

“Events like Kick Butts Day help youth understand that they are the targets of the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Barry Hummel of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation, which coordinates the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT in Dixie County. “Nothing is more eye-opening to a teenager than to realize that they are being manipulated into making a bad decision, a decision that will have life-long consequences.  Sadly, teenagers still make up 85% of new tobacco users each and every year because of those impulsive decisions.”

“Youth have always been a target for the tobacco industry,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. “Numerous internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the tobacco companies perceived young people as an important target. They developed products, like flavored tobacco, and marketing campaigns aimed at teens.”

The fact is that nine out of 10 smokers start by age 18.  If current smoking rates continue, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today who are younger than 18 years of age will die prematurely as a result of smoking.

For more information on the SWAT Program in Dixie County, contact Melanie Anderson at