WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Illinois will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)
On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In Illinois, tobacco companies spend $295.0 million annually on marketing efforts.
In Illinois, health advocates are making a statewide push to increase the tobacco sale age to 21, a move that will reduce tobacco use and save lives.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In Illinois, tobacco use claims 18,300 lives and costs $5.49 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.1 percent of Illinois's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
In Illinois, activities include:
On March 14, OSF Healthcare will host an event with Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center in Peoria that will feature virtual reality gaming adventures that demonstrate the dangers of smoking. Participants will virtually fly through the lungs and other parts of the body to see what "smoking from the inside" looks like. Time: 6 – 9 PM. Location: Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, 1306 N. Berkeley Avenue, Peoria. Contact: Kathleen Copelen (309) 363-6429.
Students at Clinton Rosette Middle School in DeKalb will clean up cigarette butts from a local park. They will also rally their school together and take a tobacco-free pledge. Time: 9 – 10 AM. Location: Clinton Rosette Middle School, 650 N. 1st Street, DeKalb. Contact: Chessa Osiecki (815) 748-2431.
The Mercer County Health Department will facilitate events at all Mercer County School District locations and at the Aledo Fire Department. The events will include creative messages spelled out by cups in a chain link fence, displayed on lawn signs showing fatal figures, or written on old clothing to "air out" big tobacco's dirty laundry. Time: 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM. Contact: Leslie Connell (309) 582-3759.
The Egyptian Health Department will display anti-tobacco messages by putting cups in a chain link fence at Eldorado Middle School. They will also promote a tobacco-free lifestyle through educational classes and support groups. Time: 11 AM – 12 PM. Location: Eldorado Middle School, 2200 Illinois Avenue, Eldorado. Contact: Kimberly Scott-Pilkington (618) 313-1227.
On March 16, the Macoupin County Public Health Department will visit Bunker Hill High School as part of its "graffiti road tour" to spread information about the dangers of tobacco use to towns across the county. Time: 1:30 – 3:15 PM. Location: Wolf Ridge Educational Center, 700 W. Orange Street, Bunker Hill. Contact: Katie Yakos (217) 320-9053.
On March 16, the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists and students from the University Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy (UIC) will host a "lung health" educational event for K-8 students at Laurance Armour Day School in Chicago. Time: 4 – 6 PM. Location: Laurance Armour Day School, 2150 W. Harrison Street, Chicago. Contact: David Silva (559) 359-3952.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Illinois, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids