WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Kansas 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 Kansas, tobacco companies spend $77.7 million annually on marketing efforts.
"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 Kansas, tobacco use claims 4,400 lives and costs $1.12 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.2 percent of Kansas 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 Kansas, activities include:
The Ottawa Library Youth Council and East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Council (ECKAN) Youth Action Council will chalk messages on sidewalks outside of schools, recreational facilities, the library and throughout downtown Ottawa highlighting tobacco's impact on health and big tobacco's deceptive tactics. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 1418 S. Main Street, Suite 1, Ottawa. Contact: Erin Laurie (785) 229-3536.
The University Of Kansas at Lawrence will host an event along with Breathe Easy at KU, Peer Health Educators, and Tobacco Free KU featuring "cold turkey" turkey wraps with notes encouraging quitting, as well as a white board where students and faculty can write why they choose to be tobacco-free. Time: 11 AM – 1 PM. Location: 1445 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence. Contact: Kelsey Fortin (785) 864-9573.
The Allen County Multi Agency Team (ACMAT) along with Thrive will host an event in Iola where students will declare that they are #NotAReplacement through posters and props, encouraging their peers to share messages promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle. Time: 11:30 AM – 1 PM. Location: Iola Senior High School, 300 E. Jackson Avenue, Iola. Contact: Elizabeth Hopkins (620) 305-9905.
The Communities That Care Youth Leadership Group at Hutchinson High School will hold a collapse campaign, where 55 students will collapse during the lunch hour to represent deaths from tobacco use. Time: 11 AM – 12:45 PM. Location: Hutchinson High School, 810 E. 13th Avenue, Hutchinson. Contact: Sondra Borth (620) 615-4012.
The Leavenworth Youth Achievement Center and the Live Well Leavenworth County Task Force, working with local health professionals and elected officials, will host eight hours of events, including a community health fair, student "kick butts" art, groundbreaking for a new youth garden, and a community unity dinner. Time: 10 AM – 6 PM. Location: 314 Delaware Street, Leavenworth. Contact: Deborah Gregor (913) 682-8222.
LiveWellAtchison and student leaders at Maur Hill-Mount Academy in Atchison will collectively brainstorm the different harmful effects of tobacco use, and record their ideas on a graffiti wall at the school. Time: 12 PM. Location: Maur Hill-Mount Academy, 1000 Green Street, Atchison. Contact: Todd Miller (913) 426-1353.
On March 17, the Herington Health Occupations Students of America will hand out disposable hospital masks marked with the hashtag "#BreatheClean" at Herington High School. This is part of a weeklong event that will also include spelling out anti-tobacco messages with cups in a fence and a large balloon release on Friday. Time: 12 PM. Location: Herington High School, 1401 N. D Street, Herington. Contact: Emma Bigham (785) 258-4200.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Kansas, 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