WKU students clean up campus for Kick Butts Day

Published: Mar. 20, 2019 at 2:06 PM CDT
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Students at Western Kentucky University worked to give their peers an up-close look at some of the problems caused by tobacco around campus.

Kick Butts Day is a nationally recognized initiative to raise awareness on the effects of tobacco.

Kentucky Public Health Association students used it as a Cigarette Butt Clean Up Day to also help kick start an initiative to make campus tobacco-free.

Students looking to volunteer were given gloves and a baggie to go to work.

Besides the typical cigarettes, Juuls and e-cigarettes were also a part of what drove the national campaign.

"The e-cigarette and the Juul were actually intended for current smokers to use, and so what we're seeing is a lot of high-schoolers and a lot of youth and college-aged students that weren't current former smokers are starting to use e-cigarettes and Juuls," said Mackenzie Pennington, coordinator for the event. "So it's kind of just creating this whole new problem."

"It's especially concerning that a lot of youth nowadays are becoming addicted to tobacco," she said.

About two hours in, the coordinator estimated 300 to 400 cigarette butts being collected and dropped into a see-through-glass collection tank. One student commented on her surprise that a lot of the cigarette butts she found were directly near a trash can.

Pennington said they were also looking to show how a cleaner campus is a healthier campus.

"The message that we're trying to convey from this event is that tobacco in any way, shape or form is harmful, even in the smallest dosage amounts," Pennington said.

Students were given free t-shirts after they volunteered. The clean-up went on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Currently, WKU has multiple zones around campus to accommodate smokers. Pennington is a part of a grassroots effort, comprised of adults and students part of the campus community, that is looking to make WKU tobacco-free.