Take Action

You are walking to school and on your way there you see tobacco litter everywhere. Then notice ads for tobacco products in gas station windows and people smoking right outside the school. You start to think about how that litter affects you, your classmates, and your community. One cigarette butt may not be harmful, but you see hundreds. Is there anything that you can do? You can’t vote, but you can have a voice! You can affect the new laws and policies that are being made in your community and you can prepare yourself for college, a job, or any real world experience you want.

There are several national days of activism for tobacco free initiatives, you can participate in these activities to gain knowledge AND strengthen a college application. On this page, you will find activities and events that you can host with little help from a mentor. These activities can be a way for you to speak up and seize control in the fight against Big Tobacco, not only on those national days of activism, but all year round. Your voice as youth leaders is very important in educating and raising awareness, you have the power to:


Raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco or the problem of tobacco use in your community


Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free


Spread the word about the Illinois Tobacco Quitline 1-866-Quit-Yes, they can help adults and teens quit smoking

Take Action

Urge your elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco

Ways to Take Action

Here activities and projects you can complete on any of the national days of activism or throughout the year. You can help to raise awareness and advocate for policies that can include smoke-free parks, smoke-free housing, stronger tobacco licensing laws, or any other number of tobacco-free policies. Although you may need little to no help from a mentor to plan, we recommend that you conduct activities under a mentor’s supervision. You can also check-out the materials in our lending library for props and materials to help support your activity.

Spread the Word

Start a “That’s Just Nasty” campaign in your school.
Request tobacco fact cards to hand out to your friends and hang up posters to let them know they many reasons they should remain smoke-free. Download the request form today
If you, your friends, parents, or anyone else close to you smokes, QUIT! Call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-QuitYes.

They Put WHAT in a Cigarette?!

There’s a lot more than just tobacco in cigarettes. Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals – including at least 70 cancer-causing toxins. For this activity, you will create a display that exposes the truth about cigarettes and all of the dangerous, deadly chemicals they contain. Visit the American Lung Association’s Website for more information on what chemicals are in a cigarette

Supplies needed:

Batteries, vinegar, hair dye, nail polish remover, cleaning supplies, disinfectant and paint – use the list of chemicals for more ideas.


Track down some household items (or have your mentor request them for you from our lending library) that contain the same ingredients as cigarettes.
Organize a place where you can display these products in a populated area, either at your school’s lunch period or downtown when there’s heavy foot traffic.
Create a large display with all of the chemical names, and title it “What’s in a cigarette?”
When passersby approach your display, explain that these household items contain the same ingredients as what’s in a cigarette.
Adapted from: Take Down Tobacco – They Put WHAT in a Cigarette?!

Cups In a Fence

Creating a powerful visual display can help people in your community realize the deadly consequences of tobacco use and the tactics used by the tobacco industry to market their products.

Supplies needed:
Plastic cups.


Find a fence that many people pass by every day.
Get permission from the owner of the property to decorate the fence, and agree to clean it up after your event.
Decide what message you would like to display and put plastic cups through the holes of your fence to spell it out. The message can be a few simple words such as “Tobacco Lies,” or a phrase of your choice.
Adapted from: Learn more about Cups In a Fence

Important Tobacco-Free Dates

Kick Butts Day (KBD) – Annually on the 3rd Wednesday in March
Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Kick Butts Day is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996, and this year there are over 1000 events in schools and communities around the world. See the Kick Butts Day event map

World No Tobacco (WNT) Day – Annually on May 31st

The Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations. Learn more about World No Tobacco Day

Great American Smokeout (GSO) – Annually the 3rd Thursday in November

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. Learn more about the Great American Smokeout

Red Ribbon Week – Annually October 23rd – 31st

Sponsored by the National Family Partnership’s (NFPs) to promote awareness, advocacy, and resources around the topics of drug free youth. Learn more about NFP and Red Ribbon

Activity Completed?!?

Did you complete one of the activities above or another activity to promote tobacco-free environments? If so, tell us about it, and we will may share your story. Have your mentor contact Aesha Binion at 708-633-8342 or email Aesha to see how you can get a Certificate of Recognition for you or your group.

Share with your Friends

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What’s your Tobacco IQ?

Think you’re Tobacco-Smart?
Test your Tobacco IQ... These facts might surprise you and your friends.

Take the Tobacco Quiz