Great American Smokeout, November 2018.

Volunteers Promote Health, Protect Environment with Great American Smokeout

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 12/6/2018 8:59:59 AM

Volunteers with the Tobacco Control Program took action to make SLO County cleaner and healthier in celebration of the Great American Smokeout in November.

This day of action is part of a year-round effort to help SLO County residents quit tobacco and help protect young people from starting.

Thirty student volunteers from the Friday Night Live program pitched in to help with cigarette butt clean-ups in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero and Morro Bay. The Tobacco Control Program partnered with ECOSLO’s Beach Keepers program to host the clean-up at Morro Rock. Teams collected a total of 768 cigarette butts across the sites. At Cal Poly, the Tobacco Control Program teamed up with the Public Health Club to engage students in education on e-cigarettes and to conduct a survey on e-cigarette usage and students’ perception of harm. 

Why are these activities so important?

  • Smoking harms health. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths. Smoking not only causes cancer. It can damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.
  • Cigarette litter pollutes the environment. An estimated 4.95 trillion cigarette butts are littered annually worldwide, making them the most littered item on earth. Smoke- and tobacco-free policies—like Cal Poly's smoke-free campus policy—reduce cigarette litter and the risk of fire on campuses while also helping protect health.
  • Young people are especially at risk. Preventing tobacco use among young people is especially important because 99 percent of smokers start smoking before turning 26 years old. Today, much of this education focuses on e-cigarettes, as more companies target young people with marketing around these devices.

The Tobacco Control program offers support and resources—including free Quit Smoking classes, group support, and nicotine replacement—for residents throughout the year.

To learn more about these resources, visit