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April: Earth Day

Earth Day Tobacco Control Guide

Program Outline

Goal: To include cigarette litter and pollution control in Earth Day activities as part of a comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program to increase awareness of the detrimental effects of tobacco use to people and the environment and to consequently reduce tobacco use.

Purpose: This guide is designed to educate school and community leaders about the increasing problem of cigarette pollution and its global hazards in addition to encouraging students and community members to take action to reduce tobacco use and its pollution.

School and Community Activities

  1. Environmental Survey—Take a count of how many cigarette butts you can find at public sites, publish the results, and call upon public officials to take necessary actions, such as policy, to reduce litter from cigarette butts.
  2. Scavenger Hunt—Students or community members can search the streets for cigarette butts, cigarette receptacles, ashtrays, and literature related to cigarette litter (i.e., a litter fine poster). Hold a news conference on Earth Day and discuss the results of the scavenger hunt.
  3. Earth Day Festival Booth—Community members may work with Earth Day organizers to include an information booth about tobacco pollution at a local Earth Day festival or shopping center. Pledges can be made by children to never harm the Earth, themselves, and others by smoking. People who smoke can also sign a pledge to never litter their cigarette waste but dispose of it properly to limit its damages. Pledges can be posted in public places or given to the media at a news conference.
  4. Essay—Students can critically think about the problems associated with cigarette littering by writing an essay describing it. The essay could include sections proposing solutions to the problem as well as preventive measures that will positively impact students as they form their own habits.
  5. Mural—Working together, students can combine their artistic skills to portray the effects of cigarette litter on local parks, streams, cities, neighborhoods, wildlife, and oceans. Hang the mural in a grocery store, library, school, or health clinic.
  6. Letter to Cigarette Companies—Appeal to the tobacco industry for a less environmentally hazardous filter and highlight the problems cigarette litter causes in your community.
  7. Poster Campaign—Have students create posters illustrating cigarette litter and display them near public trashcans or areas frequented by smokers.
  8. Poetry/Art Contest—Students can compete in an art contest by creatively representing their interpretations of the harmful effects of cigarette litter. Entries can be displayed at schools or public places such as libraries.
  9. Adopt a Park—Have students or community members volunteer time at a local park cleaning up litter. This activity will emphasize the amount of cigarette litter, illustrate the fact that it does not just go away, and give students a chance to take a step towards correcting this problem. Display the butts in a clear jar.
  10. Role-Playing Exercise—Invent an activity in which students play the part of characters such as state or local government policy makers, smokers, or nonsmokers who are affected by cigarette litter and who must deal with the problems it creates.