Students pick up butts to protest cigarette smoking

By Allison Krecek

Locals are protesting the use of tobacco during the 19th annual Kick Butts Day.

Kick Butts Day was created by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. During this day, youth are encouraged to raise awareness of tobacco’s harm. The DeKalb County Department of Health paired with DeKalb High School to raise awareness by having student volunteers pick up cigarette butts and sell candygrams this week.

“We are just trying to keep it in people’s awareness that there has been progress, but despite this progress smoking remains to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” said public health administrator Jane Lux.

Lux said along with providing awareness about tobacco use, the DeKalb County Department of Health is providing resources for smoking policies.

“We provide resources for what people can do if they want to quit smoking, and also resources for landlords and housing facilities if they want to address smoke-free policies,” Lux said.

Catherine Butsch, communications manager for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said children speaking to people their own age about smoking may have an impact on their peers.

“There are adults and teachers who talk with kids about tobacco use, but this is a day where we really want to see kids talking with each other and hope that the message comes across much more effectively,” Butsch said.

Another medium being used is TV: one commercial details the harmful side effects of tobacco use, and in another President Barack Obama asks Congress to approve a cigarette tax increase.

“Some people might think that the fight against tobacco is kind of over and we have claimed victory, but there is still a ways to go,” Butsch said.

Evelyn Comber, Health Enhancement assessment specialist, said the university provides resources for students. One program is Xtreme Air, which is an individualized smoking cessation program.

“Xtreme Air is for students who want to do something about their tobacco use,” Comber said. “They come and get some information on how to quit, but not everyone will want to quit completely. Some people want to cut back their cigarette smoking, so they come and talk to somebody about that.”