RAZE - Student Wildcats Against Tobacco (SWAT)


SWAT is a club for students who want to learn about the dangers of tobacco use and share that knowledge with others. SWAT functions through the statewide program called RAZE, which is a teen-led, teen-implemented anti-tobacco movement.

RAZE's Mission Statement:
"We are RAZE: West Virginia's teens, tearing down the lies of Big Tobacco and fighting them with all we've got: our passion, our power, and our minds. Join up, if you think you can handle it. Getting involved means more than just wearing our T-shirt. Smoker, nonsmoker, whatever - we're all about fighting Big Tobacco. What are you going to do about it?"

What is the goal of RAZE?
To create a statewide youth anti-tobacco movement that initiates concern and activism, with peer-to-peer influence, ultimately reducing tobacco use among teens.

RAZE teens fight Big Tobacco by performing "commontions" - teen-led protests that get noticed and get out the anti-tobacco message. Some of the commotions our SWAT crews perform are projects called "What's In a Cigarette?", "Make Your Own Dip", and "Tobacco's Toll."

Any West Virginian tan can join RAZE, but in order to be considered a member of our local chapter of SWAT, students had to write essays describing their reasons for joining RAZE, such as these:

I would like to be in SWAT because I'm a tobacco free student. I want to influence other people my age and younger not to try and "be cool" like everyone else, or so they hear, and start using tobacco. Because, unlike what they hear, it's not "cool" to use these products. That's why I only hang around with people who are also tobacco free students.

Personally, I think it is really gross when one of my friends gives in to peer pressure and starts to smoke or chew. I don't like being around people who could possibly influence me to start doing what they're doing. That is not what I want to do. So I think I could be a good member of SWAT because I will influence people not to use tobacco products or, in they've started, to stop using.

I want to join RAZE so that I can help teenagers and older people realize the dangers of tobacco. I was a member of SWAT (Student Wildcats Against Tobacco) during my Freshman year of High School. I was unable to be a member of the RAZE program the previous two years because of my dedication to the Student Council, in which I served as Secretary last year, which happened to be during the same Club Day period as SWAT.

While I was involved with the RAZE program, I participated in many activities to alert tobacco users of the countless dangers of tobacco. I, as well as some other SWAT members, traveled to Thorn Spring Park, a park not far from our school where younger children were visiting for a field trip There we composed a skit about smoking and how harmful it could be. This skit consisted of a trial in which "Mr. Butt" was found guilty of harming many people with his cigarettes. Also during my involvement with RAZE, I helped during a day in which we put a tally mark on a huge piece of paper every so often. This represented how often people die from using tobacco.

Statistics show that over 27% of American adults smoked in 2003. In West Virginia alone, 11 people die daily because of smoking-related illnesses. Health care smoking-related illnesses cost the state between $846 million to $1 billion in 2004.

Lives can be saved if people are alarmed of the hazards of smoking. Parents who smoke are not only causing harm to their own health, but to their children who are forced to inhale this secondary smoke into their own bodies. With help from people like me, I believe that we can reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from tobacco users by giving these people serious messages about the dangers and statistics of smoking.