WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Montana 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 Montana, tobacco companies spend $29.7 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 Montana, tobacco use claims 1,600 lives and costs $440 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 13.1 percent of Montana'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 Montana, activities include:
On March 14, student advocates with the American Heart Association in Missoula will advocate state lawmakers for tobacco control policies. Time: 9 AM. Location: 1301 E. Sixth Avenue, Helena. Contact: Amanda Cahill (406) 220-0063.
K-12 students will learn about the dangers of tobacco at the Wibaux County Health Fair. The health fair will be decorated with anti-tobacco posters, and booths will feature educational sessions and anti-tobacco games. Time: 7 AM. Location: 121 F Street N., Wibaux. Contact: Laureen Murphree (406) 855-6311.
Kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Dawson County in Glendive will pick up cigarette butts littering the city and learn how smoking destroys smokers' lungs. Time: 4 PM. Location: 111 W. Bell Street, Glendive. Contact: Tina Carter (406) 939-4569.
Junior high students with reACT and Teens In Partnership in Glendive will host a "Honk and Wave," encouraging drivers to support anti-tobacco activities and Kick Butts Day. Time: 7:30 AM. Location: 302 W. Towne Street, Glendive. Contact: Laureen Murphree (406) 855-6311.
Athletes with the Rocky Mountain College Tobacco Free Task Force and Rocky Mountain College Athletes in Billings will talk with elementary school and middle school students to discourage them from using tobacco. Time: 9 AM. Location: 1812 19th Street W., Billings. Contact: Shaydean Saye (406) 657-1051.
Students at Butte East Middle School and Butte Cares are pledging to be tobacco free and will purchase wristbands in exchange for prizes. Time: 1:00 PM. Location: 2600 Grand Avenue, Butte. Contact: Frank Rozan (406) 491-0558.
On March 20, students from Bridger reACT in Bridger will perform an interactive visual demonstration of statistics about tobacco-use in Montana with gumballs, paper cups and a plexiglass column. Time: 11:25 AM. Location: 429 W. Park Avenue, Bridger. Contact: Amy Kraft (406) 425-3826.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Montana, 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