FARGO - A public-private partnership is under way to snuff out cigarette litter in Fargo and, over time, across the nation.

The "Don't Flick It" campaign kicked off today with a news conference at the Fargo Theatre.

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City Commissioner Mike Williams said Fargo has earned top marks for its environmental measures and downtown livability.

"This cigarette butt problem, we can handle this," Williams said, noting that two dozen campaign-branded cigarette disposal containers are already scattered downtown.

The campaign is the brainchild of Norm Robinson.

Robinson, the president of Advertising Marketing and a resident of the downtown and president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said he's not against smoking but got his fill of cigarette litter last summer.

He put his firm's creative team to work, hoping the campaign will be as successful as the anti-littering drives of the 1960s and '70s.

"I just got sick and tired of seeing the cigarette butts on the ground," Robinson said.

Williams said the city has set aside $3,000 for the campaign and to help businesses buy the containers. If a business buys one container, the city will buy a second.

The waist-high black containers hold about 1,000 cigarette butts and will cost local firms, at a discount, $80, Robinson said.

"Appearances aren't everything, but they mean a lot," said Margie Bailly, executive director of the Fargo Theatre.

She compares the litter of cigarette butts to a light out on a theater marquee, small, but noticeable.

"It's all about first impressions," she said.

The campaign kit from Advertising Marketing includes several 30-second radio spots, two 15-second television ads, logos, background material and scripts for press conferences, Robinson said.

He said a Web site is nearly completed and campaign kits will soon be offered for sale to cities and firms in the region.

Williams said the television ads will be aired on Fargo's cable access channel and two billboards will advertise the campaign in the downtown area.