Keeping area stores from selling tobacco products to minors

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CALLAWAY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some of Bay County's young people are speaking up, asking adults to keep tobacco products away from minors.

Tuesday a group of young people spoke in front of Callaway city commissioners on an important issue.

"Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems which is ENDS, we want to be able to keep that out of the youth hands," Ja'toria Stephens, Regional Lead Board Member with the Florida SWAT Youth Advisory Board said.

Members of SWAT, which stands for Students Working Against Tobacco, showed pictures from inside area stores that were violating the city's tobacco product placement policy.

The current city ordinance prohibits vendors from placing tobacco products in open display units unless it's in a restricted area.

The group even suggested helping code enforcement officers keep track of stores in violation by helping to report retailers.

"We're willing to go out there and just go into stores, visit them, educate them, let them know about what's going on," Bonnie Steelman, the SWAT Coordinator said. "We don't want them to get fined or lose their tobacco retail license."

The group says they want to see a change to help save the young people from the dangers that can come from smoking.

"We're not against retailers or smokers, we just want them to stop marketing towards youth and to stop selling to us," Stephens said.

Several groups similar to SWAT are also trying to help create change by asking local governments to stop the selling of tobacco products to minors.