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Boy Scouts 'Do Something' to raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco

Apr 24, 2018 12:36PM ● Published by Today's Family

Boy Scouts of America Troop 383 of Headwaters District perform cleanups of local public areas as part of their public service, but their latest project had an additional focus.  On April 12, 2018 the troop was educated on the hazards that tobacco product waste pose to the environment. In addition to the large amount of trash collected, the troop also focused on cleaning up tobacco product waste, such as cigarette butts and containers, throughout the Mentor Civic Center area in Mentor.  Tobacco product waste was mostly found near the playground, street and grassy curb. The Boy Scout Troop had been approached by the Lake Geauga Ashtabula Tobacco Prevention Coalition (LGATPC) to focus on tobacco product waste as a way to raise awareness of how widespread the problem is and gather data in support of the coalition’s goal of encouraging government officials and businesses to adopt tobacco-free environmental policies. 

‘Do Something’ is a campaign by the Truth Initiative in Washington DC to ‘Get the Filter Out’ of the environment and cleanup tobacco product waste that is littered. “What people are not aware of is the toxic harm these tobacco waste products have on our environment,” stated Cathy Hewitt, health educator with the Lake County General Health District and member of LGATPC.  According to Hewitt, 4.95 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away each year and account for 30% of the total waste on shore lines in the United States.  Tobacco waste does not quickly break down in the environment, pollutes our water supply, creates a fire hazard, impacts wildlife, and contributes to lost tourism and revenue.  It also hurts land and water animals when they mistake tobacco waste as food.

“The LGATPC would like to thank Boy Scouts of America- Troop 383 of Headwaters District and the Lake Erie Council, as these types of projects support us in helping organizations adopt tobacco-free policies.”  According to surveys conducted by LGATPC, 55% of Lake County residents strongly agreed that parks, playgrounds, outdoor sports facilities, beaches, and fairgrounds should be tobacco-free environments, while 61% of Lake County residents felt that tobacco use of any kind should not be allowed in outdoor public spaces.  Lake County General Health District has recently assisted Fairport Harbor Exempted Village School District and Lake County Metroparks to adopt 100% tobacco-free policies.

LGATPC offers assistance to all Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake county organizations who would like to go tobacco-free.  Individuals are also encouraged to, “Support 100% tobacco-free environmental policies at schools and colleges, work with area businesses to support 100% tobacco-free outdoor work spaces, and support Tobacco 21 laws (https://tobacco21.org/) to make tobacco products illegal for purchase to individuals under the age of 21,” said Hewitt.  For more information on tobacco and tobacco-free polices, contact Cathy Hewitt at (440) 350-2442 or Shaelin Hurley at (440) 350-2464.

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