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Youth clean-up at Sylvan Beach finds drastic reduction of cigarette butts on the playground

Rocco Pizzutto, Bailey Foster, Josh Drake, Hailey Bernet, Rachel Mennig and Amelie Rohlin collected 769 cigarette butts along with some other tobacco litter and stuffed them in a carved pumpkin to demonstrate that just as tobacco should not be a part of a child’s fun activity such as carving and decorating pumpkins, neither should tobacco smoke, tobacco litter or role modeling of tobacco use be on the beaches and parks where these kids play. They are hoping to work with the village to make it a safer and healthier place for kids. They are appreciative of the changes Sylvan Beach has already made.

Youth clean-up at Sylvan Beach finds drastic reduction of cigarette butts on the playground 

On Saturday, Oct. 6, local youth spent their morning cleaning up the playground and the main beach area in Sylvan Beach. Their focus was on picking up tobacco litter. They collected over 769 cigarette butts.

The group has done several clean ups of the beach in the past and were happy to find that this year there was significantly less tobacco litter on the playground! The students believe this is because of the signs that have placed around the playground letting people know it is a smoke free area.

Bailey Foster, a freshman at Chittenango High School shared, that “last year we picked up 370 cigarette butts on and around the playground area and this past Saturday we collected only 56 around that same area.”

Reality Check youth found that the beach area had much more tobacco litter than last year. Last September the group found 324 cigarette butts and a can of chew. On Oct. 6 in just 10 minutes, they reported collecting 542 cigarette butts and five cigars, and collected another 171 cigarette butts walking from the beach to the playground.

Reality Check knows that the village is are aware of the issue of tobacco litter and has concerns about it as well, and took action last year by placing signs in the playground area. Municipalities across the state have seen a success with making their public outdoor spaces tobacco-free.

Hailey Bernet, whose family owns a camp on Sylvan Beach said that “people, particularly children, should not have to be exposed to second hand smoke or the litter we saw at the beach. Reality Check is happy with the decrease of tobacco litter on the playground and we hope to see change on the beach soon.”

Foster made a video to share her observation of the benefits of signage to reduce tobacco use and tobacco litter. Last year the group collected more than 300 cigarette butts in the playground area, this year just over 50.

The youth sent photos and a letter to the village of Sylvan Beach with their findings.

Any municipality or business wishing to make their grounds tobacco free can contact Sue Casanova at BRiDGES at (315) 697-3947. Sue has worked with several municipalities over the past 10 years to provide information and support regarding tobacco-free grounds policies.

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