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Girls Night Out to Fight Tobacco Use

LAWTON, Okla_One in five girls under the age of 18 smokes. That shocking statistic was the focus of the Students Working Against Tobacco or "SWAT" Team's Girls Night Out event at Cameron University Friday night.

The SWAT Team put on a fashion show featuring prom fashions to bring young girls in the community together to talk about and expose how the tobacco industry targets and markets to women.

87,000 kids who are now under the age of 18 in Oklahoma will eventually have their lives cut short due to smoking and that's a fact that continues to outrage the members of the Comanche County SWAT Team.

"We're trying to expose the tobacco industry, and how they're targeting the young girls and women by using their different campaigns, " said SWAT member Denise Rhodes.

Denise Rhodes has been a member of SWAT for 5 years, and she's had it with the ads.

"I don't like it. At all. At all. They do a good job of targeting us too. And it's working, but I want to limit it."

SWAT members take issue with famous ads of the past that portray cigarettes as slimming and cool and present day ads that go as far as giving free jewelry and makeup away just to target a young, female customer.

New SWAT Team member Bianca Anderson has been impacted by smoking first-hand.

"My grandma had lung cancer twice. And it really affected my life and my activities. I know she didn't want to do it but you know it's kind of addicting, so she kept doing it and she ended up suffering from it, and it was kinda like sad and painful, " said Anderson.

Both girls understand it might seem cool to smoke now, or some girls may be drawn in by the fancy ads, but they urge them to think about the long term effects.

"It will kill her sooner or later. And you'll get all kinds of different cancers from it, but you won't know until. But I would tell her to stop, " said Rhodes.

The members of SWAT are passionate about their cause and know at the end of the day if they can make even one girl understand she doesn't have to smoke to be beautiful they've made a difference.

"It makes me feel happy that I can show them what it actually does and how it affects the people outside of the community so they don't have to go through what I went through watching my grandmother suffer, " said Anderson.

For more information on the SWAT program you can visit their Facebook page.

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