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Celebrating "World No Tobacco Day" with Big Butt Cleanup

Tuesday, May 31st local youth partner in an organized cigarette butt clean up. Students from Titusville Area Schools and members of the community plan to gather at the Titusville YWCA after school and then walk to Scheide Park, through Downtown to Fleming Park stopping to pick up littered cigarette butts and other debris along the way. This is the third year for The Big Butt Cleanup which is in celebration of the World Health Organization’s (WHO), World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).

Every year WNTD highlights the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocates for policies to reduce use. According to WHO the tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people worldwide each year. That’s nearly 440,000 in the US and 22,000 Pennsylvanians.

“It’s not just our problem,” says Sam Kerr, Junior at Titusville Area High School and member of the Key Club, “it’s a problem all over the world, but we can try to make a difference in our community and raise awareness of other kids and all residents. Every little bit helps.”

Kerr and other Key Club members will be joined on the 31st by youth members from the YWCA, Titusville Middle School, and Titusville Rec Softball Team to try to rid the city of some of the pollutants. Youth involved are also members of the Youth Led Advocacy Group TRU or Tobacco Resistance Unit. Other community leaders have also been invited to attend.

The past two years the students found minimal evidence of butts in city parks which showed that the implementation of the Young Lungs at Play (YLAP) program is working. Council voted the health initiative into ordinance in October 2012. YLAP signs have been posted in city parks to reduce children’s exposure to second hand smoke, and to reduce the amount of litter from tobacco butts.

PennDOT’s Crawford County extension will be outfitting the group with orange vests and cleanup supplies, and The Erie County Department of Health, TRU, and NWPA Tobacco Control Programs are sponsoring the event. Crawford County Health Improvement Coalition (CHIC) members will be in on the clean up as well.

According to TobaccoFreeKids.org, Cigarettes are not only the world’s number one cause of preventable death, they are also a major cause of air, land and water pollution. Cigarette butts are also the number one littered item on U.S. highways and on beaches and waterways worldwide. For more information on the risks of Tobacco and World No Tobacco Day visit www.who.int/tobacco/wntd/en/. For more information on the local cleanup, call 814.758.1919.

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