WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Mississippi 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 Mississippi, tobacco companies spend $124.6 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 Mississippi, tobacco use claims 5,400 lives and costs $1.23 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 15.2 percent of Mississippi'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 Mississippi, activities include:
The Community Students Learning Center will "air out tobacco's dirty laundry" at an event in Lexington using t-shirts with facts about the dangerous health effects of tobacco written on them. Time: 1 – 3:30 PM. Location: Community Students Learning Center, 333 Yazoo Street, Lexington. Contact: Kirstain Porchia-Mapp (601) 622-2129.
The Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Oktibbeha, Clay, and Lowdnes will host an event in Columbus featuring a motivational speaker and informational booths to educate people about the dangers of tobacco use. They will then host a cigarette butt clean-up around the Boys and Girls Club. Time: 10 AM – 12 PM. Location: 1815 14th Avenue N., Columbus. Contact: Shelia Vance (662) 275-0065.
The mayor of Maben will give a road adoption proclamation, and Controllers Generation II 4-H Club will lead a cigarette butt cleanup. Prizes will be awarded to those who collect the most butts. Time: 1 PM. Location: 200 St. Stephen Road Maben. Contact: Rose Coffey-Graham (662) 242-7962.
The City of Quitman will host a cigarette butt cleanup at the local train depot, displaying the final collection of butts at City Hall in an anti-tobacco display. The National Guard will provide inflatable displays, and United Blood Services will host a blood drive. Time: 10 AM – 2 PM. Location: Quitman Train Depot, 100 Railroad Avenue, Quitman. Contact: Heather Sumrall (601) 934-9249.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Mississippi, 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