Not a Lab Rat

Posted by Sachit Gali on 05 April 2019

The youth of today are not lab rats. We are artists, athletes, comedians, singers, chefs —anything but subjects for the tobacco industry to experiment their products on. Florida Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) spread this message through our Not a Lab Rat campaign, which encourages Florida youth to stand up to the e-cigarette industry and reject a lifetime of addiction to nicotine.  

Big Tobacco’s influence can be inescapable in places like my hometown of Sarasota, Florida, where tobacco retailers market e-cigarettes to youth with kid-friendly flavors, cheap discounts, and bright packaging footsteps away from schools. My classmates vape in bathrooms or in their cars on the way to school, many of them completely unaware how dangerous these products are to their health.  

On “Not a Lab Rat Day,” hundreds of SWAT chapters across Florida held events in schools and communities to dispel e-cigarette myths and educate their peers on the truth about electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Through those activities, thousands of Florida students learned about the health effects of e-cigarretes and signed pledge cards to tell the tobacco industry that they will not become “lab rats” for them to test on.  

The youth e-cigarette problem won’t stop on its own. The Food and Drug Administration has already said that e-cigarettes have created an epidemic among teenagers, and the CDC reported that 3.6 million high school and middle school students now use e-cigarettes. But youth efforts like the Not a Lab Rat campaign are proof that student-led efforts can be powerful in protecting our peers from a lifetime of nicotine dependence.  

If you would like to educate peers in your community, you can hold your own Not a Lab Rat activity or check out the other activities posted on takingdowntobacco.org. There are plenty of ways to join in on the movement to stop and reverse the e-cigarette epidemic and our strength grows in numbers.

The youth of today are not lab rats — we are the leaders that will bring forth a healthier future for all.