‘Reality Check’ Fights for Tobacco Free Space in Downtown Syracuse

Dear Editor,

My name is Maria Betancourt and I am a student at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central School. I am a part of a group of peer educators called Reality Check, an after school program that educates on the marketing tactics that Big Tobacco use to trick youth into thinking that cigarettes are safe. I believe in the importance of having tobacco free outdoor policies in public areas here in downtown Syracuse.

People constantly throw their cigarette butts on the ground when they are done smoking them. It’s been shown that cigarettes are the majority of litter found on beaches, parks, playgrounds, and sidewalks. We have the need to greatly reduce litter and not to mention the clean-up costs. For these reasons many cities support of tobacco- free outdoor area policies.

Cigarette filters are not 100 percent biodegradable. As filters break down, they leach toxic chemicals into the ground that pollutes water sources and poisons animals.

Empowered Youth

Maria Betancourt