Falconer Reality Check Cleans Up Chautauqua Mall Of Tobacco Litter

Pictured is tobacco litter picked up at the Chautauqua Mall by Reality Check for Great American Smokeout.
From left are Falconer Reality Check members Bruce Widen holding a smokeless tobacco can and Jacob Thierfeldt holding tobacco litter that was picked up on the mall grounds with Reality Check adviser Ms. Mateki. Submitted photos

LAKEWOOD — To celebrate the recent American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, the Falconer Reality Check group decided to clean up the Chautauqua Mall of tobacco litter.

Their purpose is to educate the community about how much tobacco litter is at one of the more popular places for Chautauqua County adults and youth to hang out and shop.

Students involved in the Reality Check program hopes to build awareness about tobacco litter, discourage fellow teens from starting smoking and ultimately press for a policy that bans tobacco use on the mall campus. Bruce Widen, a Reality Check teen, said he was excited about the mall cleanup.

“It definitely doesn’t make the mall grounds look good with cigarette butts trashed all around,” he said, noting that the items aren’t biodegradable and can harm our wildlife and waterways.

The USDA estimates that about 360 billion cigarettes are consumed in the U.S. each year. Close to two-thirds of those butts — 234 billion — are tossed as litter, according to a study by the environmental group Keep America Beautiful. Tobacco litter is the most prevalent form of litter on earth.

Widen and his fellow Reality Check students are determined to see a decline in smoking, in general, and at the mall and other outdoor areas, in particular. With dense crowds of visitors (many children) and vast outdoor spaces around the mall, escaping from the smell of cigarette smoke is often impossible, they said.

Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check coordinator of Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, said the butt pickup as another win in a county-wide effort to improve health and wellness.

“We want to ensure our outdoor places and open spaces are accessible to our whole community and user-friendly for all ages,” Chaffee said. “A smoke free policy for the mall would be another step towards a healthy and more connected Chautauqua County.”

In August, Jamestown tobacco-free outdoors City officials visited Bergman Park to remind park goers that a recently enacted tobacco-free ordinance will be enforced at all parks and city facilities moving forward. The law, which restricts all traditional smokeable items, chewing tobacco and vapor devices, is now enforced at all events held at the parks.

Jamestown Community College is also tobacco-free.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York state.

For more information about Reality Check or tobacco-free outdoors, call Chaffee at 548-0555.