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DOH-Volusia - Volusia Teen to Help Lead Florida’s Movement Against Tobacco

July 10, 2018

Daytona Beach, Fla. - Deltona High School student Ryan Helmes soon will take a seat at the leadership table to work against tobacco. Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), Florida's statewide youth-led movement to combat the tobacco industry, has named Helmes to a new Youth Advocacy Board at the state level.

In his position, Helmes, 15, will incorporate skills developed through state and regional trainings into everyday management and facilitation of county-level SWAT activities. He has been a member of Deltona High School’s SWAT club since 2017.

Helmes will represent Region 2, which includes 21 counties. He joins 15 other youth on the Board.

"I will make it my duty to ensure that the next generation is tobacco free," Helmes said. "It starts with us."

The Youth Advocacy Board works in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida to help plan the SWAT organization's direction and goals, and provide input on the state's youth prevention efforts. Students work with county grantees to support initiatives that educate their peers about tobacco use, help protect youth from tobacco, and strengthen local policies, especially those that protect the public from secondhand smoke exposure. SWAT volunteers strive to empower, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against Big Tobacco. The group is a movement of inspired youth working together to de-glamorize tobacco use. Its efforts aim to shape tobacco free norms, and make tobacco less desirable, less acceptable and less accessible.

Members of the SWAT Youth Advocacy Board will serve a term through June 30, 2019.

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About the Florida Department of Health

The department works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

About Tobacco Free Florida

The department's Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida's tobacco settlement fund. Since the program began in 2007, more than 188,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free Florida's free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida's Quit Your Way services, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.