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Grant targets cigarette litter

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By Lindell John Kay
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Twin Counties should have fewer butts laying around thanks to a cigarette litter prevention grant by Keep America Beautiful.

The local chapter of the national nonprofit envisions communities that are clean, green and beautiful places to live. To that end, KAB of Nash and Edgecombe Counties has received a 2016 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program Grant to combat cigarette litter in Rocky Mount and throughout the Twin Counties. The program will concentrate on cigarette butts at Tar River Transit bus stops in Rocky Mount and downtown Tarboro through a concentrated and sustained effort.

“The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program has been proven effective,” said Cornelia McGee, the organization's coordinator.

KAB of Nash and Edgecombe counties is one of 42 organizations to receive grant funding for 2016, totaling $240,000, through the 2016 Cigarette Litter Prevention Program. The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, now in its 14th year, is the nation’s largest program aimed at reducing cigarette litter.

Communities that implemented the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in 2015 realized an average 52 percent reduction in cigarette litter, McGee said.

“Simple actions like installing ash receptacles and distributing pocket ashtrays have made a big difference in decreasing litter and ultimately keeping communities beautiful,” McGee said. “By raising awareness, we expect similar reductions here in the Twin Counties area.”

KAB affiliates, local governments, business improvement districts, downtown associations, parks and recreation areas and other organizations dedicated to ending litter and beautifying communities received grants. Since the establishment of the national initiative, communities in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada have implemented the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program to reduce cigarette litter, said KAB President and CEO Jennifer Jehn.

“One of Keep America Beautiful’s primary goals is to end littering in America,” Jehn said. “The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program pursues a multi-faceted behavior-change strategy to combat, and ultimately eliminate, the leading form of litter in America. We applaud our grant recipients for making such significant progress, helping to fulfill our vision of a country where every community is a clean, green and beautiful place to live.”

Since its establishment, the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program has consistently cut cigarette butt litter by approximately half based on local measurements taken in the first four months to six months after program implementation. Survey results also demonstrate that as communities continue to implement and monitor the program, those reductions are sustained or even increased over time. KAB has distributed nearly $3 million in grant funding since 2006 to support local implementation of the program in more than 1,500 communities.

Grants provided by KAB through the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program fund implementations across the country in a variety of community settings including downtowns, roadways, beaches, parks, marinas, colleges/universities, tourist locations, and at special event locations.

Tobacco products, consisting mainly of cigarette butts, are the most littered item in America, representing nearly 38 percent of all items littered, according to Litter in America, KAB’s landmark study of litter and littering behavior. Research has shown that even self-reported non-litterers often don’t consider tossing cigarette butts on the ground to be littering. KAB has found that cigarette butt litter occurs most often at transition points, or areas where a person must stop smoking before proceeding into another area. These include bus stops, entrances to stores and public buildings, and the sidewalk areas outside of bars and restaurants, among others.

The organization's Guide to Cigarette Litter Prevention provides information about starting and maintaining a Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in any community, and can be found online at PreventCigaretteLitter.org.

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