On a recent Friday afternoon, South Royalton fifth graders trekked from school to the town green for a service project: they were picking up littered cigarette butts. The students fanned out across the green, donning plastic gloves, and collected discarded butts, exclaiming “ewww!” and “I can’t believe how many there are!” as they worked. The clean-up yielded a stunning 788 discarded cigarettes in thirty minutes.
Fortunately for the fifth graders, some of their high school counterparts are working to keep Royalton’s green clean long term. The school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions group (S.A.D.D.) is spear-heading an initiative to ban smoking on the Green and town athletic fields.
During the last two months, S.A.D.D. students have worked with Laurie Smith from Health Connections, to better understand the health effects of second hand smoke and the environmental impact of discarded cigarettes.
S.A.D.D. students unanimously agreed to pursue a no-smoking ordinance to protect the health of children in the community. Group members noted the irony that Royalton currently bans dogs from the town green, (with a sign that reads, “to ensure the health and safety of the public”) while allowing smoking. In addition to studying the issue, students circulated a petition in school and around Royalton asking the Selectboard to enact a no-smoking ordinance.
The S.A.D.D. initiative culminated in a presentation to Royalton’s Selectboard on April 12th. Students shared a power point highlighting key facts about second hand smoke. They noted that more than two million people have died as a result of second hand smoke since 1964.
Students also pointed out that children are especially vulnerable to second hand smoke and can develop asthma, ear infections, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome from exposure to the thousands of chemicals in smoke.
In short, S.A.D.D. member Cameron Kimball explained, “there is no safe amount of second hand smoke.”
At the end of the S.A.D.D. presentation, South Royalton fifth graders shared the three jars full of cigarette butts their class collected and asked the Selectboard to seriously consider the S.A.D.D. proposal to enact a no-smoking ordinance on the green and town fields. Selectboard members praised all their students for their efforts and promised to hold a discussion about the ordinance at a future meeting.
– Laurie Smith
This post also was published as an article in the Randolph Herald on April 21, 2016 – http://bit.ly/1SSfjck