WASHINGTON, March 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Maryland will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for 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 demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:
- Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.
- Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
- Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).
Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Maryland, tobacco companies spend $134.4 million annually on marketing efforts.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. Elected officials in every state should help reach that goal by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In Maryland, health advocates are pushing to significantly increase the state's tobacco tax, which is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids. Maryland has not increased its tobacco tax in nearly eight years.
In Maryland, tobacco use claims 7,500 lives and costs $2.71 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 11.9 percent of Maryland'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 Maryland, activities include:
Members of Girls Inc. in Hagerstown will participate in Kick Butts Day by learning about tobacco prevention and going to stationed activities such as relay races, poster contests, and games designed by the older members of Girls Inc. Time: 4 PM. Location: 626 Washington Avenue, Hagerstown. Contact: Amy Hiet (301) 733-5430.
The Aberdeen Youth Center, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, 4-H, and US Army Child & Youth School Services, will host a Kick Butts Day event where youth create and display tombstones and anti-tobacco messaging in a fence using cups. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: Aberdeen Proving Ground. Contact: Valerie Collier (410) 278-9061.
No more butts in the bay! The Phillips Wharf Foundation will bring their Fishmobile and marine biologists to Country School students in Easton to demonstrate the toxic effects of throwing cigarette butts in the Chesapeake Bay. The event is funded by the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program (CRF). Time: 10 AM. Location: 716 Goldsborough Street, Easton. Contact: Barry Cox (410) 726-1758.
On March 28, youth from Fort Meade CYSS Youth Center will have a demonstration at the Fort Meade Post Exchange Main Store to call attention to the destructive effects of tobacco. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: Building 2799 Rose Street, Fort George G. Meade. Contact: LaToya Cardwell (301) 677-1437.
On March 28, Aberdeen youth will participate in a Stop Smoking Expo by the Aberdeen Proving Ground Child and Youth Services Center to learn about the effects of smoking. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: Brewer's Lanes Bowling Center Building 2342, Aberdeen Proving Ground. Contact: Karen Johnson (410) 278-4995.
All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Maryland, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids