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World No Tobacco Day

The cleanup was in celebration of the World Health Organization’s (WHO), World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), which seeks to educate the public about the risks of tobacco use and campaigns for effective policies to reduce tobacco use in general.

YWCA youth advocates, Titusville elementary, middle and high school students set about town picking up discarded cigarette butts and other debris along the way on Wednesday after school. The students began at the Titusville YWCA, and traveled downtown to Flemming and Scheide Parks, and ended back at the YWCA for pizza and youth produced video program.

“We added a video presentation this year!” says Ashleigh English, director of the Titusville YWCA and cosponsor of the event. “We had different youth groups video short messages against Big Tobacco and then strung them together.” Groups represented in the video included members of, YWCA, Family Tree Hardware Rec Softball Team, THS Peer Helping, and others. “The kids had great time with the whole event,” continued English, “they were engaged and we had thoughtful conversation after watching the show.”

The group’s goal was to raise the community’s awareness about the importance of adopting tobacco free environments, and to take a stand against youth target marketing of the Tobacco Industry.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tobacco company advertising and promotion influences young people to start using tobacco, and data from the Federal Trade Commission In 2014 indicates cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent more than $9 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone. “Big Tobacco spends millions to position their products at point of sale so kids see their cigarette and e-cigarette products in the stores they go to the most,” says Paula Di Gregory of the NWPA Tobacco Control Program. “It’s wonderful that these kids want to send the message that they are getting wise to the industries games.”

The group collected several bags of debris and reported that the parks had some littered butts, but not as much as was found on the streets around Main Street Elementary School, and City Hall parking lot. This follows the same butt litter trend as past three years.

All youth who participated in the Big Butt Cleanup are members of American Lung Association’s Tobacco Resistance Unit (TRU), and will continue to be involved in peer education activities throughout the year.

For more information on TRU and World No Tobacco Day, contact Paula Di Gregory at 814.758.1919.

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