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Group picked up discarded cigarette butts downtown and will hold an event on Thursday at the high school

JASON CHANEY - Members of Crook County High School's Students Against Destructive Decisions pick up discarded cigarette butts Thursday afternoon near Bowman Museum. Pictured left to right are Mackenzie Sutherlin, Emily Mize (standing), Cindy Vargas and Olivia Cooper.

Late Thursday afternoon, local motorists in downtown Prineville might have noticed a few teens in blue gloves seemingly sprucing up the sidewalks and storefronts.

While they certainly picked up quite a bit of litter along the streets as well as in some local parks, they focused their clean-up specifically on discarded cigarette butts. Starting at Pine Theater and fanning out to cover the downtown sidewalks, five local members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), as well as several Crook County Health Department employees, picked up as many cigarette butts as they could find. They stashed them in clear, plastic zip lock bags with plans to count them up later.

"We are going to see how many we collect because we figure there is going to be a rather large amount," said Olivia Cooper, a SADD member and student liaison with the Health Department. "We are curious to see how much it is and want to help clean up our community in the process."

SADD is a national organization that is committed to educating young people on the risks associated with a number of behaviors.

"We cover everything from substance abuse prevention to traffic safety to mental health awareness," Cooper said. "This is just one of the events that we do to help promote substance abuse prevention."

The choice of downtown Prineville, which was bustling with traffic on Thursday afternoon, was not made without purpose.

"We can kind of get people to see what is happening," Cooper explained. "We want people to know how many cigarette butts are out there."

The clean-up effort is part of a lead-up to this Thursday's Great American Smokeout. The American Cancer Society began hosting the daylong event, which takes place every third Thursday of November, more than 40 years ago.

During that day, the American Cancer Society challenges people to avoid smoking for one day, in hopes of that day being the start of quitting the habit for good.

The organization acknowledges how difficult it is to stop smoking, stating that the "addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions one can have."

Because quitting can be so difficult, ACS strongly advises smokers use proven cessation methods like prescription medications and counseling to kick the habit. People can also turn to telephone quit lines, ACS's Freshstart Program, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help books and materials, and encouragement from family and friends.

The day of the Great American Smokeout, the local SADD group will once again go to battle against cigarette smoking as well as vaping and perhaps marijuana use.

"We are going to be doing a different event that day at the high school around stopping smoking," Cooper said.

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