Students participate in cigarette cleanup

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BELLOWS FALLS — Students from Bellows Falls Middle School teamed up with students from Bellows Falls High School to participate in the Great American Smokeout with an activity focused around cleaning up cigarette butts on Nov. 14 and 21.

The Great American Smokeout, hosted by the American Cancer Association, is an annual event held on the third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to use the date to quit - even if for one day. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country with over 480,000 deaths caused by smoking a year.

During the two-day events the groups, comprised of the BFMS VKAT (Vermont Kids Against Tobacco) BFUHS OVX (Our Voices Exposed) and staff members from Greater Falls Connections, safely collected cigarette butts from spaces around Bellows Falls within two one-hour spans. During the walks, students identified where butt litter was the most common, pointing out that many cigarettes were found in places where "no smoking" signs were placed.

Heather Waryas, OVX advisor at BFUHS stated, "I think it's important for students to recognize the total cost of smoking to our climate - our health, our healthcare system and our ecosystem. At BFUHS we have a newly energized focus on our climate globally this year and having students pick up that much plastic waste in such a short period of time and space was eye opening to them in the aspect of non-biodegradable litter in just our little village."

Waryas also noted, "It's always powerful when students of different ages work together on a common goal. The younger students are energized and encouraged by the older students and the olders are inspired to do their best work as they serve as role models for the youngers!"

Between the two activity days, students collected more than 1,100 cigarette butts within a mile of the school. In addition to cigarette butts, cigarillo wrappers, JUUL pods, and cigarette cartons were also collected.



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