News and Events

Cedar Key SWAT Addresses Tobacco Litter Problem
September 19, 2015

Cedar Key is a small city in Levy County that is making a big difference. The Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members from Cedar Key School have been participating in the International Coastal Cleanup for several years now and have collected over 9,300 cigarette butts to date. This September, eleven SWAT members participated in the cleanup event and spent a Saturday combing Dock Street, the Marina, and 2nd Street for cigarette butts and other tobacco litter.

Due to carefully documenting their collection efforts, the students noticed that they were still finding a large amount of tobacco litter in certain areas of the small coastal fishing community that are frequented by visitors. SWAT decided to create a plan to help lower the amount of tobacco butts found on the ground.

Tobaccco Collection
Levy Cleanup (L to R):
Trinity Boyle, Brandon Bowling, Dakota Phillips

Cedar Key SWAT leader, Dakota Phillips, explains, “The prediction was that if we put small garden buckets on the trash cans around Main Street, people might use them as ash trays instead of throwing them on the ground.”

The SWAT Team
Pictured from L to R: Bella Walters, Makenna Stottlemyre, Devin Stottlemyre, Ashlyn Willis, Alexa Stottlemyre, Trinity Boyle, Trinity Keller, Kylie Plemmons, Whitney Neal

The students have been collecting data every year since 2011 on the number of butts they collect during the Coastal Cleanup in three areas of Cedar Key, and the good news is the numbers have been declining every year. Cedar Key SWAT feels confident that the new cigarette butt collection buckets on the sides of the garbage cans in the area will further reduce the tobacco litter problem.

The project is not just about reducing litter. The students care about wildlife too. Dakota says, “By trying to put a stop to tobacco products being thrown on the ground, Cedar Key is also helping the helpless animals that eat the improperly disposed cigarettes butts carelessly thrown on the land or in the water.”

Dakota wants to make sure everyone knows how easy a project like this can be. “Something like this can be done anywhere; all it takes is an idea” she says. Additionally, having the support of local decision makers helped the SWAT students achieve their goals.

Cedar Key Commissioner and Coastal Cleanup organizer, Sue Colson, mentioned that she feels the SWAT students’ plan of providing buckets for cigarette butts was the primary reason that the numbers of butts found around the Marina are so much lower this year. She is also convinced that an increase in local construction has negatively impacted the numbers of cigarette butts found on Dock Street.

International Coastal Cleanup – Cedar Key 2011-2015
Actual Number of Cigarette Butts Collected







Dock Street












2nd Street






For more information on the SWAT Program in Levy County, contact Kristina Zachry at