WASHINGTON, June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids announced today that it is establishing a new initiative – the Max Shacknai Center: Shining the Light Project – to expose tobacco industry activities that encourage young people to smoke and support effective action to protect children from tobacco addiction.
The new initiative is made possible by a donation from the Max A. Shacknai Foundation. Its President, Jonah Shacknai, is a health care business executive and member of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' Board of Directors. The initiative is named in memory of Mr. Shacknai's six-year-old son, Max.
This initiative will shine a light on tobacco industry activities that cause young people to smoke, develop coordinated efforts to counter the industry, and support implementation of programs and policies that protect children from tobacco addiction.
"We are deeply grateful to the Max A. Shacknai Foundation for its commitment to protecting America's kids from the tobacco industry and honored to name this new initiative in memory of Max," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Through this initiative, we will expose how the tobacco industry continues to target our children and support effective action to create the first tobacco-free generation."
"We are pleased to support this initiative to protect children from the tobacco industry and help them lead healthy lives. The Center honors Max's innocence and his respect for an active, healthy lifestyle," Jonah Shacknai said. "The Max Shacknai Center: Shining the Light Project will move us closer to the day when every child can grow up tobacco-free."
This initiative comes as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health and as public health leaders have launched a reinvigorated effort to end the tobacco epidemic for good.
While the U.S. has made enormous progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use is still the nation's number one cause of preventable death, killing 480,000 Americans and costing at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year.
Tobacco use is a pediatric epidemic as 90 percent of adult smokers start at or before age 18. The latest Surgeon General's report, issued in January, found that 5.6 million kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless strong action is taken now.
The Surgeon General's report also found that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue smoking. It concluded, "The tobacco epidemic was initiated and has been sustained by the aggressive strategies of the tobacco industry, which has deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes."
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. Learn more at TobaccoFreeKids.org.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids