Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and sponsors were at this week’s Altus City Council meeting to present information about their program to the Council about creating tobacco-free parks.
Altus Times photo by Paula Peterson
The Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and their sponsors Officer Mike Bell and Dennie Christian came to City Council on Tuesday night to give a presentation. The SWAT team spent just 30 minutes picking cigarette butts in the City Park and amassed a huge jar of them. Most people think the butts biodegrade, but they are plastic. Children pick them up imitating their older role models, putting poisons and other people's bodily fluids in their mouths. Animals often try to eat them. They are a health hazard.
Tobacco costs Oklahoma $2 billion dollars each year. Sixteen Oklahomans die each day due to tobacco use. Ninety percent of people who smoke started before age 18. According to surveys, 50% of Jr. and Sr. high school students who smoke already want to quit. But the tobacco companies don't want that. The youth are their future customers; that's why they're flavoring tobacco products and putting them in candy-like packaging. Here in Altus, 15% of children who smoke buy their tobacco directly from stores.
Our youth are exposed to second-hand smoke in many places. SWAT wants to see all our parks tobacco-free. The City Council will present a draft proposal for this goal in April.