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Cigarette butt cleanup aims to spark tobacco-free policy awareness

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Ohio State student volunteers at the RPAC before a cigarette butt cleanup on campus on April 1. Credit: Courtesy of Alex Ede

Ohio State student volunteers at the RPAC before a cigarette butt cleanup on campus on April 1. Credit: Courtesy of Alex Ede

As part of an Earth Day project, students in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in coordination with the Office of Student Life Student Wellness Center conducted a cigarette butt cleanup on Friday.

The goal of the cleanup was to not only dispose of cigarette butts on campus but to also call attention to the university’s tobacco-free policy, which went into effect on January 1, 2014, to ban the use of tobacco on campus.

The cleanup also aimed to identify specific locations on campus where more attention could be focused on calling attention to the tobacco-free policy, said Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life. Areas that were targeted this year included the Wexner Medical Center, Fisher College of Business, Thompson Library and the area behind the Journalism Building.

At the end of this year’s cleanup, a total of 16.15 pounds was collected, totalling 11,412 cigarette butts, with each pound equally more than 700 cigarette butts.

Ryan Calvin, a fourth-year in health sciences, said the cleanup is also a great opportunity to spread awareness.

“The second component of this cleanup is to create awareness of the tobaccos policy. As we go out for the cleanup and wear our t-shirts, it creates a scene and people may stop and ask what this is for and we are able to educate them on the tobacco-free policy,” Calvin said.

As a student, Calvin said being part of this cleanup is rewarding.

“It’s a cool thing to be a part of as a student who really didn’t know much about it before to now having such a large impact in it, it feels really good,” he said.

Besides the cleanup, there are other events held by these students and the Student Wellness Center to increase awareness of the tobacco-free policy on campus.

“In addition to this cleanup, we held a mini health fair right it front of Thompson Library and it was a really cool experience because we got to see how students responded to the tobacco-free policy,” said Evelyn Vaughan, a fourth-year in health sciences who also participated in the cleanup.

At the health fair, there was an event where students and faculty could complete the sentence “I support a tobacco-free OSU because” on a white board. Vaughan said the event received positive response and received participation from some deans from colleges at OSU, as well as University President Michael Drake.

The next course of action that will be taken includes the Student Wellness Center following up with the personnel who smoke in the “hot spots” that were identified on Friday. The center will be working with these people to promote compliance with the tobacco-free policy, Vaughan said.

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