Current Initiative

We will be heard!

Youth have the voice of change in this world and the power to make a positive difference. By using our voice, we will continue to stand up against Big Tobacco, bringing attention to the environmental impacts of tobacco products and marketing toward youth. Youth can empower, help guide and provide our peers with resources to create the change.

Key Messages and Supporting Facts

Tobacco industries harm the environment, from the process of growing tobacco to the by products from the user.

  • Cigarettes are the most littered item in the country—an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of butts wind up as toxic trash each year in the United States, creating an enormous environmental, health and economic burden.
  • Cigarette butts cause pollution by being carried as runoff to drains and, from there, to rivers, beaches and oceans. Organic compounds (such as nicotine, pesticide residues and metal) seep from cigarette butts into aquatic ecosystems, becoming acutely toxic to fish and microorganisms.
  • Tobacco cultivation contributes significantly to deforestation—a cigarette-manufacturing unit needs about four miles of paper for rolling and packing, which translates to the destruction of one tree for every 300 cigarettes made.

Big Tobacco targets youth through manipulative marketing tactics such as product packaging and enticing flavors.

  • Many of Big Tobacco’s products—such as cigars, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco—are flavored or sold in packaging similar to candy.
  • There are currently more than 7,700 unique e-cigarette flavors available online, making them more easily accessible to youth.

Youth are capable of making a positive change and taking strategic steps in the right direction to make change a reality.

  • There are three methods proven to be most effective in reducing youth tobacco use:
    • Enacting tobacco-free policies—this helps reduce youth exposure to tobacco products and secondhand smoke.
    • Funding comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs—investing in these programs helps users quit and keeps youth from starting.
    • Increasing the retail price of cigarettes—per recorded statistics, every 10 percent increase in the retail price of cigarettes reduces the number of youth who smoke by six to seven percent.
  • The three methods, including strong policy efforts such as the Clean Indoor Air Act, have helped lower the youth smoking rate in Nebraska from 20 percent in 2008 to the new low of seven percent.