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FOR RELEASE: September 28, 2000  
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Teens Gather to Give Big Tobacco a Dose of Reality – SWAT Style

On Oct. 19-21, at the Westin Hotel in Oklahoma City, 300 teens from across the state will come together to help create and lead a tobacco-free generation. Teen Summit 1, or “TS1,” will be the first summit led by teens in Oklahoma that targets the tobacco industry, an industry that has spent billions of dollars targeting them.

The summit will be hosted by a youth-led movement called SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco). Current SWAT members have spent months planning and developing the overall structure of the summit. “We wanted TS1 to be fun, but also a wake-up call for Big Tobacco. The reality behind it is that we will not allow the tobacco industry to use us to make a 'killer' of a profit, “ said Jalynn Tatum of the Edmond SWAT team.

The goal of Teen Summit 1 is to empower teens to lead a movement against the tobacco industry and learn valuable information about the deliberate strategies that the industry has used to addict teens. The summit agenda includes guest celebrities; workshops that focus on media relations, communications, and local action planning; and several strategy sessions. The teen participants will research tobacco industry internal documents, participate in the filming of television commercials, and send tobacco use prevention messages to Big Tobacco in a special Web cam room.

Other highlights of Teen Summit 1 include:

  • Thurs., Oct. 19, former Winston Model Dave Goerlitz and an MTV guest will share their personal battles with nicotine addiction and how they have been used by Big Tobacco.
  • Thurs., Oct. 19, and Fri., Oct. 20, students will send powerful messages to Big Tobacco via the Internet and Web cam room.
  • Fri., Oct. 20, and Sat., Oct. 21, video producers will work with students to create and shoot two television spots on site at the summit.
  • Fri., Oct. 20, students will work with a local public relations firm in developing a brand name for the movement. “Philip Morris uses Marlboro and the cowboy for their brand. We want our brand to stand for the truth and be recognizable to every teen in Oklahoma,” said Veshal Malholtra,
  • Edmond SWAT member.
  • Sat., Oct. 21, students will participate in problem solving and local development through role-playing at “Activist Camp.”
  • Sat., Oct. 21, about 300 students armed with the latest information and signs will march to Bricktown to host a closing rally and shoot a television commercial. Students will present their list of demands for the tobacco industry.

Tired of being used as “pawns” in the tobacco industry's deadly game, teens in Oklahoma communities are organizing local SWAT teams. These groups advocate for a tobacco-free generation who refuses to replace the 1,200 people who die everyday from diseases resulting from their tobacco addiction. A similar teen-led program in Florida has produced impressive results. In just two years, middle school smoking rates decreased by 54 percent and high school smoking rates decreased by 24 percent.

“SWAT and Teen Summit 1 are about taking a stand against a corporation that knowingly hid the truth about tobacco and continues to target us to be their next victims,” said Sara Roettel, Tulsa SWAT member.

Teen Summit 1 is sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and is coordinated by the National Resource Center for Youth Services at the University of Oklahoma.

To learn more about SWAT and Teen Summit 1, log on to the SWAT Web site at www.okswat.com or contact SWAT Headquarters at 405/271-3619.

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