LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Lawton students are doing their part to take a stand against the tobacco industry.
It's part of an effort to help put an end to the 3 million middle and high school students that use tobacco nationwide.
Each year, students around the country host events to help their peers be more aware of the marketing tobacco companies use to target young people. This year, students from Lawton High and Central Middle School chose to team up with the Healthy Living program at Comanche County Memorial Hospital to pick up cigarette butts at Elmer Thomas Park.
The City of Lawton has an ordinance that makes it illegal to use any tobacco product on city owned property, including city owned parks. While there isn't anyone smoking out Monday evening, there was plenty of discarded cigarette butts earlier in the day.
One of the students that picked up cigarette butts Monday says she and her peers knew it was time for them to make a difference.
If you've spent any time at Elmer Thomas Park, you've probably seen a cigarette butt or two on the ground. That's something Lawton High School senior Tevis Hillis says bothers her.
"The main thing is second hand smoke. Children that get into a car with a parent that smokes…they're hurting their lungs," Hillis said.
Hillis says she and her friends don't smoke. So, they decided to put the change they hope to see throughout their city into action.
"We're out here today changing something. And I'm very excited to be out here today to clean up the park and get the cigarette butts out of the way," Hillis said.
Hillis says with cigarette butts off the ground, it not only gives the park a cleaner look, but it will help change the way people see Lawton.
"We'll have healthier children, we'll have healthier air and it will make everyone happier," Hillis said.
Sandy Foster, Healthy Living's program director, says while the world is quick to pass judgment on today's youth, she wants to remind the Lawton community of this one thing.
"These kids are making a difference, but in the state of Oklahoma we still are really unhealthy. Doing activities like this and working together we are improving the health of our state and the health of our city," Foster said.
Foster says while students did get an hour out of class, the overall goal for Monday's event carried a deeper purpose.
"So, it's not for getting second hand smoke exposure, or seeing one of your hero's out here smoking and thinking, 'well they do and I want to be just like them.' It's really about having fun and making a difference," Foster said.
Monday's event was one out of 25 events scheduled throughout the state this month to raise awareness about Kick Butts Day.