SWAT Leader from Martin County Addresses
The Martin County Legislative Delegation

September 19, 2013

STUART – On September 19, 2013, Martin County High School Student Ally Diaz presented to the Martin County Legislative Delegation on youth tobacco issues.  Ms. Diaz is the new President of the Martin County High School Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Club.

Ms. Diaz focused her remarks on current tobacco issues affecting her peers, sharing very personal stories with the legislators.  “What drives me is my passion for the safety of my family, my friends and the future generations,” said Ms. Diaz.  “My grandfather died of lung cancer… my best friend, he is battling with an addiction to chewing tobacco. Everyday, I ask him: ‘how did you do today?’ If he says,  ‘Ally I made it,’ I tell him I'm proud of him. If he tells me ‘Ally, I dipped today,’ I tell him ‘no matter what I am proud of you... Just keep trying, tomorrow is a new day.’”

Ms. Diaz made her remarks to share the importance of the Community-Based Youth Tobacco Prevention Programs on reducing youth tobacco use in Martin County.

Ally Diaz
Martin County High School SWAT President Ally Diaz
addresses the Martin County Legislative Delegation

In 2006, Florida Voters overwhelmingly passed an Amendment to Florida’s Constitution restoring full funding for the Tobacco Free Florida Program.  The funding comes from a 1997 settlement with the major tobacco companies to compensate Florida for the overwhelming financial costs caused by tobacco use in Florida.  Those payments are placed in a trust fund so that the Tobacco Free Florida campaign will live in perpetuity.

Since the funding was restored in 2008, the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation has managed the program in Martin County.  Since that time, middle and high school use of cigarettes, cigars, and spit tobacco in Martin County fell below Florida state averages for the first time ever in 2012.

Students like Ms. Diaz have helped to drive this reduction through the Students Working Against Tobacco Program.  “It is passion that leads us to continue fighting for what we believe is right,” Ms Diaz told the Martin County Delegation. “That is why I feel that it is my obligation to spread the word about tobacco products. Since I am both Leadership President and SWAT President [at Martin County High School], both organizations work hand and hand to get the word out for upcoming events and concerns involving tobacco awareness.”

Ms. Diaz is also having an impact on a statewide level.  She is participating on statewide conference calls to drive the youth agenda for the 2013-2014 school year.  She has also presented at a Regional SWAT Training on the issue of e-cigarettes, sharing important information with her peers from 14 counties in South Florida.

Martin County Delegation
The Martin County Legislative Delegation, from L to R:
Rep. Gayle Harrell, Rep. Mary Lynn Magar,
Senator Jor Negron, and Senator Denise Grimsley

After thanking the Martin County Delegation for their continued support of the SWAT program, Ms. Diaz presented each legislator with a DVD copy of “Who is The Target?”, a video produced by SWAT students throughout the state that highlights the issue of flavored tobacco.

This year’s Chair of the Martin County Delegation, Representative Mary Lynn Magar, thanked Ms. Diaz for her efforts as a youth leader on the issue of tobacco prevention.